The paying customers saw today that I'm on record as believing the Saints will win a close game on Sunday. The pick is based on home-field advantage. Thanks for all the not-so-well wishes from the Purple faithful.

Take note, however, that I also thought the Saints would win the last time I headed for New Orleans. The Saints had just been upset at home by the Cowboys and were taking on the two-win Bucs at the Superdome.

A win would have clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC, which as we know the Saints clinched anyway the next night when the Vikes lost in Chicago. But with everything to play for, the Saints still lost to the Bucs in OT. It was the first time in NFL history that a team with at least 13 wins lost to a team with two or fewer wins.

One of the Saints' weaknesses -- run defense -- was on display that day. They simply couldn't stop the Bucs from pushing them down the field, particularly in overtime, when Tampa Bay ran I believe eight consecutive times to move into field goal range.

Running the ball is most likely the key to the Vikings winning this game. It slows the pass rush, bores the crowd, controls the game and reduces the chances for a Saints defense that thrives on interceptions.

Here are the running backs who had 100-yard games against the Saints this year:

Date, site     Player, team                             Carries    Yards     TDs                      Result

11-2, N.O.    Michael Turner, Falcons                  20       151         1        Saints W 35-27

11-8, N.O.   DeAngelo Williams, Panthers        21        149         2        Saints W 30-20

11-15, STL Steven Jackson, Rams                    26        131         1        Saints W 28-23

1-3, CAR     Jonathan Stewart, Panthers           16        125         1   Panthers W 23-10

Now here is a look at Peterson's career playoff numbers. He's played two games, winning one and losing one. He had 20 carries for 83 yards (4.2) and two touchdowns in last year's loss to the Eagles. He had 26 carries for 63 yards (2.4) and no touchdowns in last week's win over the Cowboys. This will be Peterson's first road playoff game.

Games     Carries      Yards      Ave.    Long     TDs

2                         46          146       3.2        40           2

Peterson also has gone eight consecutive games without a 100-yard performance. He can break that streak this week. He might have to if the Vikings are to reach the Super Bowl.