Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints - 1/14/18 NFL Pick, Odds, and Prediction

Jan. 7 Cam Newton is tended to by medical personnel after being sacked in the second half against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans

In addition to Hill (three catches for 49 yards), receivers Michael Thomas and Ginn had excellent games, Thomas with eight catches for 131 yards and Ginn with four for 115 yards and the TD. After spinning out of a tackle, Newton rose to his feet just in time to be creased in the head by the Saints player.

Once Newton dropped to his knee, he had to be taken to the locker room, according to a new provision in the concussion protocol. Speaking of that, now that his season is over, Newton figures to benefit from the opportunity to finally rest the throwing shoulder he had surgically repaired last offseason.

Newton also said after the 31-26 loss he was dealing with an eye injury and not a concussion. I do believe I am the leader of this team, and the team goes as I go. Then he provided the exclamation point by rolling very wide to avoid pressure and hit a wide-open Thomas for a 46-yard pass on a critical touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. I hate that I couldn't do enough to get a win today for a lot of guys that I think so highly of. He played a key role in his team's victory, sacking Newton and forcing the game-deciding intentional grounding call.

In a season where the big stories were about the Saints offense relying less on Drew Brees and more on a power running game featuring Alvin Kamara and Ingram, Sunday was about Drew Brees reminding everyone he's still awesome at 38 years old.

Brees, who turns 39 next week, will be hoping to lead his team to a better result than they managed in week 1.

"I was actually talking more to the other Kalil brother", Jordan said of Matt Kalil. The best quarterbacks in the National Football League can throw receivers open even when they're covered, and Brees did that all game long against Carolina. It was intercepted by safety Mike Adams, which turned out better for New Orleans than an incompletion because it meant the Panthers had to start from their own 31 instead of midfield. "I thought maybe somebody stuck their finger in my eye, but I have a visor, so that can't happen".

Now, the degree of difficulty amps up significantly with a return trip to Minnesota in next Sunday's divisional round to face the 13-3 Minnesota Vikings.

It was the Saints' first playoff victory since 2013 and their first home playoff win since 2011. That was during the 2013 season, when they won a wild-card round game at Philadelphia before losing the next week at Seattle. "They took him in there as a precautionary just to make sure, but when he was sitting on the ground, they were trying to wipe whatever when he got popped". If the Saints are going to accomplish their ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl this season, that much-improved supporting cast might not be enough.

(On Sean Payton's decision to go for it on fourth and two late in fourth quarter) "He said, 'do you want to go for it or punt?' I said, 'do you have a play you like?' and he said 'Yeah.' So, I said, 'let's go for it.' End of discussion".

Newton quickly cleared protocol with the Panthers saying he injured his eye, not his brain, on a second-down sack by Saints defensive lineman David Onyemata with the Panthers trailing New Orleans, 24-19.

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