Case for the Vik­ings

Jour­ney­man QB ea­ger to lead NFC’s top seed in first ca­reer play­off start

Sport360 - - Nfl Playoffs Nba - By Jay Asser @Jay_Asser [email protected]

Much has changed since Min­nesota and New Or­leans met in the very first week of the sea­son, but the big­gest dif­fer­ence may be un­der cen­tre for the Vik­ings of­fence.

Jour­ney­man quar­ter­back Case Keenum is set to make the first play­off start of his ca­reer when the NFC’s top seed host the Saints in the divi­sional round tonight.

Keenum played in all but one game this sea­son – the opener, which now feels like for­ever ago, when Sam Brad­ford picked apart New Or­leans for a 29-19 win.

Af­ter Brad­ford suf­fered a knee in­jury, Keenum took over the reins for good in Week 2 and hasn’t re­lin­quished them since, help­ing the Vik­ings fin­ish with a 13-3 record and home field ad­van­tage through­out the play­offs.

In his fifth sea­son as a pro, Keenum will now gets the well-earned chance to play in the post­sea­son.

“I call it not a scared ner­vous, but an ex­cited ner­vous,” Keenum said.

“I’m ex­cited be­cause I’m pre­pared and I know what I’m gonna do. I know I’m gonna play.

“But man, you get the adren­a­line go­ing, you’re wait­ing in that tun­nel, you hear U.S. Bank Sta­dium go­ing crazy out there. I mean, if you’re not feel­ing some­thing at that point, I tell peo­ple you might be an adren­a­line junkie and need to go jump out of planes or bungee or do other

stuff like that be­cause it’s an ex­cit­ing mo­ment and it’s re­ally cool.”

Keenum may have been la­belled a “game man­ager” be­fore this sea­son, but with Min­nesota he’s blos­somed into one of the bet­ter quar­ter­backs in the league.

His passer rat­ing of 98.3 was sev­enth-best in the NFL, while his com­ple­tion per­cent­age of 67.6 ranked sec­ond.

Keenum’s coun­ter­part on New Or­leans tonight (UAE: 01:40 +1) will be a quar­ter­back with no short­age of ex­pe­ri­ence, hav­ing made 12 ca­reer play­off starts and win­ning a Su­per Bowl ring.

Drew Brees re­minded of his sta­tus as one of the top sig­nal-call­ers in the game when he dis­sected Carolina in the wild card round last week, but the 38-year-old is likely to be in for a tougher chal­lenge against Min­nesota.

The Vik­ings defence al­lowed the fewest yards in the league (275.9 per game), sur­ren­dered the fewest points (15.8) and were the stingi­est, by a wide mar­gin, on third down (25.2 per cent con­ver­sion rate).

Pur­ple patch: Min­nesota’s Case Keenum boasted the sev­enth-best passer rat­ing in the NFL this sea­son at 98.3.

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