Against the odds and in the most thrilling of ways, the Minnesota Vikings are moving on to the divisional round of the playoffs.
The Vikings (10-6) overcame a sloppy first quarter and surged in overtime to a miraculous 26-20 win over the New Orleans Saints (13-3) in Sunday’s first NFC wild-card game at the Superdome, marking the second straight season in which the conference’s lowest seed has upset the host and advanced to the next round. The Philadelphia Eagles knocked off the Chicago Bears during the 2018 postseason after Cody Parkey’s now-infamous “double-doink” field goal miss.
While there is still another wild-card game to play Sunday between the Seattle Seahawks and Eagles, the Vikings don’t need to wait until it ends to know who they will be playing next. As the lowest seed in the NFC, Minnesota automatically slots into a road game against the top-seeded San Francisco 49ers (13-3) in the NFC divisional round at 3:35 p.m. CT next Saturday at Levi’s Stadium.
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A Closer Look at the 49ers
The Vikings and 49ers didn’t meet during the regular season, but Minnesota will certainly be facing an uphill battle against the best team in the NFC this season.
The 49ers once touted a formidable pass rush that featured Dee Ford and rookie Nick Bosa as two of the league’s best at harassing quarterbacks, but the strong numbers declined down the final stretch of the regular season. Even still, San Francisco’s defense finished the season allowing the second-fewest yards per game (281.8) along with the second-best stopping percentage on first downs (28.9) — and they are only getting healthier.
San Francisco is no slouch on offense, either, averaging the fourth-most total yards (381.1) and second-most points (29.9) with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and his showstopping tight end George Kittle helming the effort. In just his third season in the league, Kittle has already tallied more receiving yards (2,945) and receptions (216) in his career than any other tight end in NFL history, though he falls well short with just 12 career touchdown catches. Not that it makes him any less of a threat after Kittle was named to the All-Pro first team and surpassed 1,000 yards for the second straight season.
Last Time These Two Teams Met
The Vikings have gone 22-19-1 in 42 all-time series matchups with the 49ers, but the past two decades have mostly belonged to Minnesota.
The Vikings won on their home field against the 49ers last September in a 24-16 victory that saw them rush out to a 10-point lead and stay ahead by a full score for the entire way. It was their fifth win in seven games against San Francisco in the new millennium and offered a reasonable showcase of what each team currently brings to the table. Most of both teams’ current stars played in last year’s game, but the 49ers have seen more upgrades along their defensive front and out of their backfield.
When it comes to playoff history, the Vikings have a three-game losing streak dating back to 1989 against the 49ers in games all played out in California. The only other time Minnesota played at San Francisco came during the 1987 playoffs as Vikings wide receiver Anthony Carter caught 10 receptions for 227 receiving yards — which was a record at the time and remains the second-most ever in a single postseason game.