Each week, BringMeTheNews will analyze the Vikings’ upcoming game from both sides, and give you “5 key reasons the Vikings will win.” This week they travel to New Orleans, who are 0-2 having lost two high scoring close games.
For 5 key reasons the Vikings should be worried, click here.
5. Opponents marching down the field against the Saints
New Orleans is the most surprising 0-2 team in the NFL. Sure they opened with two road games, but both were against teams coming off disappointing seasons.
The biggest reason for that slow start: the Saints defense.
- Through two games the Saints have given up 63 points (31.5 per game).
- Atlanta's Matt Ryan torched the Saints secondary for 448 yards during week one
- Through two games the Saints are also giving up more than 120 rushing yards per game
- Opponents are converting third downs at 48 percent (13-for-27).
New Orleans also hasn't been able to generate much of a pass rush, according to Chris Landry of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
"For example, I would have never believed that the Saints' defense would have only two sacks through two games – and very little pressure. The Saints are simply more talented than that, but have not shown so on film. This exposes their coverage and tackling problems even more."
That might be just what the Vikings offense needs as the team tries to figure out its identity post-Adrian Peterson.
4. Sunday wasn't as bad as it seemed
Yes, the New England Patriots beat the Vikings 30-7 last week and at times it was ugly. That said, much of the reason for the lopsided margin lies with the Vikings' mistakes.
Quarterback Matt Cassel threw four interceptions and was sacked six times and the Patriots returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown just before halftime.
The good news about most of that is that it's very correctable.
And things could have been very different Sunday, if Cassel had hit either Kyle Rudolph or Cordarrelle Patterson near the end of the half. Both were open and would have set the Vikings up with a first and goal at least, instead of settling for a 48-yard field goal that was blocked and returned for a score.
3. Cassel has been here before
It wasn't that long ago that Matt Cassel was the guy who had to step up. It was the NFL's opening weekend in 2008, and Cassel stood quietly on the New England sideline watching, preparing and readying himself should something happen to Tom Brady. Then suddenly it did.
Brady tore his ACL while being hit and his season was over, thrusting Cassel into the limelight.
He responded. Cassel led the Patriots to an 11-5 season, throwing for nearly 3,700 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Cassel told reporters Thursday he reverts back to that time as he thinks about what things can be like for the Vikings without Peterson.
"It was a great opportunity for me and we were able to still perform, go out there and we ended up the year 11-5, which nobody thought we could do, Cassel said. "At the same time, it's going to give opportunities and we've got to be able to step up."
At the same time, the veteran has proven that he can win games without Peterson. ESPN notes that Cassel won a pair of games last December for the Vikings when Peterson was out with a foot injury.
2. Vikings can focus on something other than Adrian
About the only thing louder than the endless questions surrounding Adrian Peterson for the Vikings will be the crowd at the Mercedes-Benz Super Dome on Sunday afternoon.
It is normally a difficult place to play and considering all of the distractions of this week, it could be especially tough for the Vikings on Sunday.
But for roughly three hours on Sunday afternoon the Vikings can forget all about Peterson and all of the news and just focus on football.
"You don't prepare for this happening," coach Mike Zimmer said during an interview with the New Orleans media this week. "I wish there was a manual on these kind of situations. You just do what you think is right. You go out on Sundays and play as hard as you can and let the chips fall where they may."
1. A special (teams) key
Most people look at the blocked field goal by the New England Patriots last week as the turning point in the Vikings loss to the Patriots.
Not many people are giving Minnesota much of a chance to beat the Saints on Sunday, but a big play on special teams could help make the difference.
The Vikings offense will have to contend with a loud and rowdy Saints crowd, while the defense will have to contend with Drew Brees and all of the Saints firepower. So a big play on special teams could be a difference maker.
Sure, a blocked field goal or punt would be great, but more realistic is a big return by either Patterson or Marcus Sherels.
It would be a nice return for special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, who is back from his suspension to start the season for insensitive comments he admitted making to then-Vikings punter Chris Kluwe during the 2012 season.
Too positive for you? Then here are “5 key reasons the Vikings should be worried about the New Orleans Saints.”