The NFL starts Week 16 of the 2020 with a rare Christmas Day game as the Vikings take on the Saints. Kickoff in New Orleans is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Eastern.
Both teams have lost back-to-back games. The Vikings lost at home to the Bears, 33-27, and the Saints suffered a 32-29 defeat at the hands of the Chiefs.
Who: Minnesota Vikings (6-8) at New Orleans Saints (10-4).
When: Friday, Dec. 25, 2020.
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans (72,003).
TV: FOX/NFL Network.
Latest line: Saints -7.
Announcers: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews and Kristina Pink.
Looking for NFL-themed face masks? Fanatics has several options for adult and youth masks for all 32 NFL teams, and FOCO is selling the official face coverings NFL players are wearing on the sidelines this season.
Read some of what Brett Martel of the Associated Press wrote about Drew Brees preaching patience after returning to the lineup vs. the Chiefs.
Now New Orleans has two regular-season games left to try to win the NFC South — for a fourth straight season — and tune up for the postseason.
“You want to be playing your best football going into the playoffs,” Brees said. “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.
Brees also notes that other key, short-term absences — like that of receiver Michael Thomas for the final three regular season games — will pay off when the club is healthier for the postseason.
Brees counts himself among the players who need to ramp back up, having played Sunday for the first time since a four-game absence caused by fractured ribs and a punctured lung. Brees’ performance fell below his usual standard in Sunday’s 32-29 loss to Kansas City. He completed fewer than half of his passes and was intercepted once.
“Listen, I missed the last four weeks; I’m trying to kind of get back into it again, and get the feel and the rhythm and all that,” Brees said. “So, I think there’s just a little bit of that going on right now. But, at the end of the day, we’re only going to get better week to week, from now until the end of the season, and then going into the playoffs.”
Meanwhile, Saints defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson said he sees no reason why New Orleans’ defense should suddenly have confidence problems after being ranked as high as No. 1 in the NFL a few weeks ago.
“The loss, it hurt, but as a whole, as a unit, as a D, we can’t get down on ourselves,” Gardner-Johnson said.
But Gardner-Johnson seems fueled by the notion — real or imagined — that critics of the Saints defense are coming back out in force.
“I feel like everybody’s overlooking us already. I feel like everybody feels like we’re going to come in, our heads down, not energized,” Gardner- Johnson said. “We’re ready. If you’re not fired up after two losses, I don’t know what’s going to put a fire under your (bottom). But I know with me, there’s a little pep in my step. I know I’ve got to take it to another level.”
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