Case Keenum 'excited nervous' for first career playoff start


Although some may debate how valuable he is to the Saints this year because of the growth in the running game, Brees is still the most reliable player on offense. It wasn't a great day for an improved New Orleans defense. WR Ted Ginn Jr. was clutch in the final quarter of play, finishing with 115 yards and 1 TD on four catches. It's been a stirring ride worthy of the late John Facenda and the NFL Films orchestra providing the soundtrack.

With all the focus on Minnesota wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen and their matchup against the terrific young corners in the Saints secondary, Keenum will rely on a safety valve to have some success through the air. The goals couldn't be more defined or profound, football-wise or geography-wise.

Now the Vikings have an opportunity to become the first team to play a Super Bowl on home turf, a feat the Saints would be happy to deny. The most targets he received in a single game was nine on two occasions against the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers.

Two of the NFL's three best edge rushers this season were born 43 miles and 19 months apart in Arizona.

The Saints look to build on their home win last weekend against the Carolina Panthers and keep their Super Bowl aspirations alive as they take to the road to battle the defensively stout Minnesota Vikings in a contrast of styles that should make for a very exciting game. All the other teams are an injury away from having no shot at winning the Superbowl. The Vikings also like to show blitz before dropping linebackers such as Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks, whose speed and instincts have been a major reason Minnesota has the top-ranked total defense in the NFL.

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LINE ITEM: The Saints will be without starting left guard Andrus Peat, a versatile former first-round draft choice who also filled in for Terron Armstead at left tackle this season when he was injured. Newman's experience could bring plenty to the table in terms of containing the Saints' downfield threats, but in case he won't be able to give it a go, the Vikings will increase their usages of Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander.

According to a report Friday by the Boston Globe, the Vikings plan to activate and dress out Sam Bradford, who is on injured reserve with a knee injury and hasn't played since October 9. Under him, the Vikings have gone 11-3, and he has the second-highest completion percentage in the National Football League behind. you know who. The team with the elite defense tends to hold the edge in these offense vs. defense showdowns, but five points may be a hard spread to cover against a Saints offense led by one of the game's all-time great quarterbacks. The site of the game is the same one hosting the Super Bowl in three weeks. This is Keenum's first playoff start.

Playoff pressure, though, can do some tricky things. Teddy Bridgewater, the third quarterback on the Vikings roster, has barely played this season as he works his way back from his horrific leg injury.

Saints coach Sean Payton called the Vikings' effectiveness the ideal blend of scheme and personnel.

Minnesota quarterback Sam Bradford completed 27-of-32 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns in the first meeting, earning NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors.