After 215 days in hibernation (or, since that Jan. 5 playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers), it's go time for the Vikings.
Tonight, Minnesota hosts Houston in the first game of the preseason:
What's at stake: This is the preseason. So the real answer is, uh, not much. But the Vikings would love to get off on the right foot, and avoid injuries. Today, Star Tribune football writer Dan Wiederer also stressed that the game is a "full-on assessment of the bottom half of the roster."
The last time they met: Vikings 23, Texans 6. (Highlights here.) Minnesota's Week 16 win last year helped put the Purple in the playoffs.
Player in the spotlight: Matt Cassel. He's Christian Ponder's backup this year. How does he look so far? Better than Joe Webb of 2012?
Best quote of the week, so far: It's from former Packer Greg Jennings, who said he was "kind of brainwashed" in Green Bay.
The company line: Mike Wobschall has compiled his '5 Goals For Preseason Opener vs. Texans' for Vikings.com. No 1? That injury thing: "Teams can make all the progress in the world during the preseason, but a bad injury here or there can be just as hurtful as that progress is helpful."
What the other guys are saying: Houston Chronicle writer John McClain says the Texans are eager to see what rookie wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (Clemson) can do in a game. McClain says Hopkins -- the No. 27 pick overall -- has been "spectacular" in practice so far.
The latest line, our prediction: Vegas has Vikings as 1-point favorite. We like 'em by a field goal, Vikings 17, Texans 14.