Each week, BringMeTheNews will analyze the Vikings’ upcoming game from both sides, and give you “5 key reasons the Vikings should be worried.” This week they travel to New Orleans to face the Saints, who are 0-2 following two close high-scoring losses.
For 5 key reasons the Vikings will win, click here.
5. Vikings under pressure
Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel was sacked six times last week by New England and the Saints under Sean Payton have been known to put pride in getting after the quarterback.
The Vikings will need to protect Cassel better if they want to come away with a win on Sunday, but Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner isn't as worried about left tackle Matt Kalil as others have been after Sunday's loss to the Patriots.
"We got ahead in the fourth quarter [against St. Louis] and we got three or four sacks," Turner told reporters, Thursday. "When you get behind a team like New England and they aren't going to let you get back in it, pass protection becomes a lot more difficult."
Turner said they do need to improve at protecting the quarterback, but the quarterback also has to get the ball out quickly to improve the situation.
4. Two words = Jimmy Graham
After facing Jared Cook (St. Louis) and Rob Gronkowski (New England) the Vikings will face the toughest matchup in the NFL today when they line up against New Orleans and tight end Jimmy Graham on Sunday.
NFL.com writer Chris Wesselling calls Graham the best red zone threat in the NFL. He writes:
"For all the serious football fans lamenting the fact that LeBron James chose the hardwood instead, the NFL presents Graham as the freak athlete posting up defensive backs like a power forward in the end zone. Flip on Game Rewind for last week's game at Cleveland, and you will see Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden clinging to Graham's legs like a toddler. This is your ultimate mismatch."
3. Distractions, distractions, distractions
It has been a tumultuous week for the Vikings and the NFL. The news headlines around Vikings running back Adrian Peterson's indictment in Texas has thrown this week's preparations for the New Orleans Saints into the background.
First Peterson will play, then he won't play. Will he ever play for the Vikings again?
Everyone from the owners to the general manager to the coaches and the players has been questioned by reporters on anything and everything related to Peterson, and some of them responded.
After fielding question after question about Peterson, who isn't playing on Sunday, Coach Zimmer asked reporters Wednesday if any of them wanted to talk about the Saints game.
The last time the Vikings have dealt with something even close to this big was in 2005 when a few Vikings took an ill-fated boating trip on Lake Minnetonka.
The week also had other off-the-field headlines including the return of special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, whose suspension for insensitive comments to former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe was shortened from three games to two.
But then on Thursday as they hoped to finally be able to focus on football – there was more.
This week has to have left many of those inside Winter Park wondering, "When will it ever end?"
2. The Saints are a different team at home
The Saints are off to an 0-2 start on the season, but their struggles seem to go back a little further than that. According to ESPN, the Saints are 7-8 in their last 15 games (regular season and playoffs).
During that stretch the Saints are 2-8 on the road, which means over that same stretch they are 5-0 in the Super Dome.
"The Big Easy" hasn't been friendly to the Vikings in recent years either. The Vikings lost the 2009 NFC Championship to the Saints in that building 31-28 in overtime. They were also beaten in New Orleans 14-9 to open the 2010 season.
1. Drew Brees
The Saints have only lost their home opener twice since Drew Brees became the Saints quarterback in 2006.
At 0-2 many Saints fans think Sunday's home opener against the Vikings is a must win for a team that could be nearing a crossroads. Much like New England quarterback Tom Brady, some are starting to wonder how much Brees still has in him.
Brees has had some terrific seasons in New Orleans and even won a Super Bowl in 2009, but after a couple of shaky starts to open the year, the NFL Spin Zone points out that Brees will have to step up if he wants to lead the Saints back into the playoffs.
But the Vikings witnessed first hand, last week, what a veteran quarterback can do when his team's back is against the wall. Brady only threw 21 passes, but he completed 14 of them for 149 yards and a touchdown.
If the Vikings want a victory Sunday, they can't allow Brees to be equally as efficient.