Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints

Minnesota Vikings
New Orleans Saints
Week 1

The Saints and Vikings meet in a rematch of the NFC Championship Game. The Saints won that meeting 31–28 in overtime but were outplayed along both lines by the more powerful Vikings. Minnesota was its own worst enemy, turning the ball over five times, including two fumbles and two interceptions to kill four of their final five drives.
The game features two of the league’s marquee quarterbacks, Brett Favre and Drew Brees. Favre is coming off one of the best seasons of his storied career and has said this is his final campaign. He came back to try to win a Super Bowl and has the horses around him to get it done. The Vikings’ star-studded lineup might be the most talented in the league. It features eight Pro Bowlers.
Brees is in his prime and playing the position as well as any quarterback in NFL history. He directs the league’s top-ranked offense, a deep multi-faceted attack that features playmakers at every position.
The game is one of the most-anticipated matchups of the NFL season and will feature the usual array of festivities associated with the annual kickoff game. Emotions will be high in the Superdome. The Saints will unveil the Super Bowl XLIV championship banner before kickoff.

Two keys for the Saints
• Can they stop Adrian Peterson? He rushed for 122 yards and three touchdowns in the last meeting but fumbled three times. The Saints’ run defense could be handicapped. Middle linebacker Jon Vilma’s range could be limited by a pulled groin injury he suffered in Week 3 of the preseason.
• The Saints battered the 40-year-old Favre mercilessly last time. The beating eventually took its toll, and Favre made some critical mistakes late. The Saints don’t have a dominant rusher so they’ll need to manufacture pressure with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ creative blitz packages. New free safety Malcolm Jenkins is a converted cornerback making his first start in place of Darren Sharper. Look for Minnesota to attack him downfield and test his mettle.

Two keys for the Vikings
• The Vikings’ front four must pressure Drew Brees. If they can harass Brees without having to blitz it will take the pressure off their injury-depleted secondary. The key to stopping Brees is to get pressure up the middle. Defensive tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams need to collapse the pocket and prevent Brees from having open lanes to pass or run. If they can get in his face, his accuracy rate will decrease. If Brees has time to throw, the Vikings might need to win a shootout because Brees and company are going to score points.
• Ball security will be paramount. The Saints will be hawking the ball again. The Vikings can’t afford to turn the ball over another five times. If they can keep the turnovers to a minimum they could control the clock and wear down the Saints’ undersized defense.

Bottom Line
With the emotion and fanfare of the Super Bowl XLIV banner drop, this would be a difficult game to win for the Vikings even if they were at full strength. But they’ll be missing two starters in the secondary and big-play wide receiver Sidney Rice. The Superdome will be rocking and give the Saints the edge they need to prevail, 30–20.


 

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