New Orleans (11-6) at Minnesota (11-5)

January 06, 2001

Time: 12:30 p.m., chs. 45, 5.

Line: Vikings by 8 1/2 .

Vs. spread: Saints 10-7; Vikings 8-8.

Vs. common opponents: Saints 5-2; Vikings 6-1.

Series: Vikings lead 15-6.

Last meeting: Vikings won, 31-24, on Nov. 8, 1998, at Minnesota.

Postseason records: Saints 1-4; Vikings 16-22.

Outlook: The Vikings are tough to beat at home. They play on a fast surface, the fans are extremely loud, and the offense usually gets on a roll early. The Saints have a superb defense, ranked third in the NFC, and DT La'Roi Glover, who led the league with 17 sacks, will cause the Vikings some headaches. But, quite simply, the Saints don't have the offensive firepower to stay with Minnesota. Playing the Vikings on the road is different than beating St. Louis at home last week. Going into that game, Rams QB Kurt Warner was still suffering the effects of a concussion, and it was clear the timing he had established with his receivers for much of the season was off. The Vikings are healthy and rested. Look for RB Robert Smith, who had an NFC-high 1,521 yards rushing, to have a big game.

Notable: Saints led the league with 66 sacks, the sixth-highest total ever in the NFL. ... Vikings are making their fifth straight postseason appearance, longest active streak in the NFL.

Injuries:

SAINTS: Out: RB Terrelle Smith (back). Doubtful: WR Joe Horn (ankle). Questionable: RB Ricky Williams (fibula). Probable: S Steve Gleason (knee); WR Robert Wilson (thumb); WR Keith Poole (concussion).

VIKINGS: Probable: P Mitch Berger (groin); QB Daunte Culpepper (ankle); TE Johnny McWilliams groin); WR Randy Moss (back); T Korey Stringer (knee); RB Moe Williams (back); LB Kailee Wong (quadriceps).

NFL rankings:

OFFENSE DEFENSE

Total Rush Pass Total Rush Pass

New Orleans 4 2 8 3 4 4

Minnesota 5 6 7 28 15 28

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