The New Orleans Saints scored on their first three possessions as they raced to a 24-14 halftime lead over the Minnesota Vikings on Christmas Day at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
A victory would give the Saints (10-4) their fourth consecutive NFC South title and keep alive their hopes for the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. New Orleans has already secured a playoff spot.
Running back Alvin Kamara scored three touchdowns, the first a 40-yard burst through the left side of the offensive line, the second a 1-yard dive and the third a powerful 5-yard run with 38 seconds left in the first half. Kicker Wil Liutz added a 30-yard field goal on the team's third possession.
The Vikings (6-8) kept things close with a 15-yard scoring run by star Dalvin Cook and a 4-yard touchdown run by Mike Boone.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees, making his second start after missing four games with a broken ribs and a punctured lung, was sharp early, connecting on 7 of 10 passes for 114 yards before cornerback Harrison Hand intercepted him on the Viking 12-yard line, ending a potential scoring drive. Brees finished the half 10 of 15 for 151 yards. The 20-year veteran needs three yards in the second half to reach 80,000 yards for his career. As the NFL's all-time passing leader he would be the first player to hit that milestone.
Minnesota (6-8)will get the ball to start the second half.