GAME OVERVIEW ::
BY hilow >>
- Joshua Dobbs is likely to draw the start at quarterback for the Vikings with Jaren Hall concussed, a role the former is unlikely to relinquish for the remainder of the season.
- K.J. Osborn also suffered a concussion in Week 9 and is unlikely to play against the Saints.
- T.J. Hockenson was limited in practice on Wednesday but appears likely to play. He also represents the team’s best option to move the ball through the air in this spot.
- Justin Jefferson had his 21-day practice window activated and returned to a limited session on Wednesday, but he remains unlikely to play in Week 10.
- Rookie RB Kendre Miller missed practice on Wednesday with an ankle injury suffered in Week 9.
How NEW ORLEANS Will Try To Win ::
The Saints have run an uptempo offense (eighth-ranked 27.4 seconds per play) with a near league-average Pass Rate Over Expectation (PROE). That said, their offensive play calling and design has been wildly susceptible to game environment, with the team comfortable taking a more run-balanced approach unless otherwise forced. Quarterback Derek Carr has two games with more than 50 pass attempts this season, both of which came in losses to the Texans and Jaguars. In his seven other starts, he’s averaged a much more natural 30.1 pass attempts per game. Considering the matchup with the Vikings and the state of their opponent’s roster, it’s fair to expect the Saints to approach this one with the same run-balanced stance until otherwise forced, which is also less likely to occur than in other spots this season.
We’ve seen Alvin Kamara’s snap rate and workload dip in four consecutive weeks as Jamaal Williams has returned to health and become more involved. Furthermore, as was discussed last week during chalk Kamara week, his outlier performances through the air have come in games where the Saints were playing from behind throughout the contest. Kamara has seen five or fewer targets in each of the three New Orleans wins since he returned to action in Week 4, seeing 14 targets twice and eight targets once in the three losses during that time. The return to health of Williams has also threatened Kamara’s weekly rushing upside, as he’s logged 17, 17, and nine carries since his backfield mate returned from injury. And then there’s the curious case of “tight end” Taysom Hill, who has seen his involvement in the offense grow over the last month of play, seeing 19 targets and 26 carries in that span. That number includes 20 combined carries over his previous two games. The matchup on the ground is middling on paper against a Vikings defense holding opponents to 3.7 yards per carry on the backs of just 1.10 yards allowed before contact (third best).
The Minnesota defense leads the league (by a wide margin) in blitz rate this season but has changed things behind those blitzes, running zone coverage at a top-10 rate in the league. The Saints have two very clear paths for volume to flow against man coverage, with both Chris Olave and Michael Thomas seeing a target on over 30 percent of their routes run against man coverage this season. Against zone, however, things flatten out for the Saints, with only Olave (23.7 percent) seeing a targets-per-route-run (TPRR) rate higher than 16 percent this season. Furthermore, the return to health of primary contributors has left the Saints playing with elevated rates of 12-personnel and elevated rates of unique packages via Hill, leaving all of Olave, Thomas, Rashid Shaheed, and tight end Juwan Johnson in sub-elite snap-rate roles. In other words, the Saints are plenty fine utilizing a rotation of skill position players via an offense that utilizes heavy rates of sub packages. As such, nobody pops on paper based on the confusing utilization and middling matchup.