With the NFL opting not to play a Thursday game on Christmas Eve, it moved the prime-time showcase to late afternoon Friday and sent Minnesota down to New Orleans.
The game doesn’t have the same headline-grabbing potential with the Saints (10-4) unlikely to secure the NFC’s only playoff bye, which Green Bay currently owns, and the Vikings (6-8) not going anywhere. Still, it provides some noteworthy viewing appeal.
Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook and New Orleans’ Alvin Kamara have had two of the most productive seasons of any running backs. Rookie receiver Justin Jefferson has been outstanding for the Vikings as the replacement for the traded Stefon Diggs.
The Saints have been staunch on defense much of the year, and they have quarterback Drew Brees back — and presumably not rusty like he was in his return last week against the Chiefs.
“You want to be playing your best football going into the playoffs,” Brees says, noting that the Saints still need to clinch the NFC South ahead of Tampa Bay (9-5) and can do so with a win. “The most important factor right now is for us to win and win the division, right? And then, continue to kind of build on and ascend, going into the playoffs.”
No. 18 Minnesota is a 7-point underdog at No. 4 New Orleans. Merry Christmas, Saints.
KNOCKOUT POOL: The Titans kept us flowing with their romp past Detroit. Getting down to the end of available teams worth taking, but Pro Picks kept a good one: NEW ORLEANS.
No. 2 Buffalo (minus 5) at No. 19 New England, Monday night
The Bills’ chance to further erase some of that recent ugly history vs. the Patriots.
BEST BET: BILLS, 28-19
No. 22 (tie) Philadelphia (minus 1 1-2) at No. 24 Dallas