Saints X-Factors in Week 16

X-Factors for the New Orleans Saints ahead of their Week 16 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.
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The New Orleans Saints (10-4) play their final 2020 regular-season game inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome against the Minnesota Vikings (6-8) on Christmas Day. The Bayou Boys could provide the Who Dat Nation with a Christmas gift as a win would secure a fourth consecutive NFC South championship. Here are three players that will be X-Factors as the Saints continue their march to the playoffs on Friday.

OFFENSIVE X-FACTOR: RB ALVIN KAMARA

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Sean Payton said “I didn't feel like we ran the ball efficiently when we tried.” following the loss to Kansas City on Sunday despite Alvin Kamara averaging nearly 5-yards per carry. Battling the league's 23rd ranked rush defense this week, New Orleans could lean on the ground game to make up for a depleted receiving corps and Kamara would lead that charge.

Kamara's stellar year has lead to his fourth Pro-Bowl appearance in four years. The 2017 Offensive Rookie of the Year has spoken openly about his take on the rivalry between the two teams since he entered the league and is still searching for his breakthrough game against Minnesota.  AK will look to leave his stamp on the rivalry Friday inside the dome.

DEFENSIVE X-FACTOR: LB DEMARIO DAVIS

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Demario Davis led the Saints defense last week, holding the Chiefs to 31 points on 92 offensive snaps. This week, another tall task as the Saints battle offensive player of the year candidate, Dalvin Cook who has torched the Saints in recent years. It will be up to Davis to set the tone defensively and force the Vikings to become reliant on the passing attack to move the football.

The All-Pro selection from a year ago was snubbed of a Pro-Bowl appearance again this season and remains one of the best linebackers in the NFL. Davis looks to lead his defense yet again against an underrated Vikings offense and get the Black and Gold back to their winning ways.

WILD CARD X-FACTOR: WR EMMANUEL SANDERS

WR Emmanuel Sanders versus Dennard

New Orleans' wide receiving corps took a major hit last week, losing All-Pro Michael Thomas to IR prior to the Kansas City game and later losing Tre'Quan Smith to IR with an in-game injury. On Sunday, Emmanuel Sanders served as the only WR who was not elevated from the practice squad who was on the field for New Orleans and it will be similar on Christmas Day.

The Saints do receive reinforcements, bringing rookie WR Marquez Callaway back from IR this week but will again be navigating the offense with a handful of Practice Squad receivers. Sanders will have to show his veteran leadership both on and off the field this week, coaching up young wide-outs and providing a go-to option for Drew Brees.

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