Vikings-Saints game plan

Strategy-wise, the Vikings and Saints are expected to use the same approach they took in the NFC Championship Game, with the Saints applying defensive pressure and Brett Favre trying to exploit the one-on-one matchups that creates. Get insight from both cities, along with historical and modern-day notes.


This game presents a huge issue for a Vikings defense that as of Tuesday had only three healthy cornerbacks on its 53-man roster. Veterans Antoine Winfield and Lito Sheppard are expected to start at the left and right corner, respectively, and second-year corner Asher Allen likely will play in the nickel role.

But the Saints are capable of using four wide receivers and when that happens it remains unclear what the Vikings will do. Husain Abdullah, a little-used safety who has been a special-teams contributor, might be the Vikings best cover safety and could line up against a second slot receiver in a dime package.

The Vikings also are going to have to account for Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey and running back Reggie Bush, who can catch the ball out of the back field.

It will be essential that the front four of Ray Edwards, Kevin and Pat Williams and Jared Allen get pressure on Drew Brees and don't let him become comfortable in the pocket.

But Brees can get rid of the ball and there is no guarantee that consistent pressure is going to completely slow him down.

The Vikings offense only needs to make one big change from how it attacked the Saints in the NFC title game. And that is to hang onto the football.

Minnesota lost three fumbles and Brett Favre had two interceptions in that game. The Saints roughed up Favre but the reality was the veteran used that to his advantage, often finding wide receivers in one-on-one coverage that was created by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' decision to blitz.

Favre would welcome a few more hits if it means he can find open receivers.

The Vikings likely will look to pound the ball with Adrian Peterson, given that the more clock the offense can eat up the more time the defense can spend not worrying about the Saints offense.


  • The Vikings are 2-1 against the Saints in the playoffs, having beaten New Orleans in an NFC wild card game in 1987 (44-10) and in the NFC divisional playoffs in 2000 (34-16).

  • Former Vikings WR Anthony Carter set an NFL record in that 1987 postseason game, finishing with a total of 143-total punt return yards. That included an 84-yard return for a touchdown.

  • RB Adrian Peterson set a team record for most rushing touchdowns in a playoff game with his three in the 2009 NFC title game. Peterson's three total touchdowns also tied a team playoff record with Sidney Rice and Leroy Hoard. Peterson's 122 rushing yards ranks third in franchise playoff history, trailing Robert Smith's 140 in 2000.

  • Peterson's 4,484 rushing yards in his first three regular seasons were more than all but four running backs gained during their first three years in the NFL. Peterson trails Eric Dickerson (5,147 yards), Earl Campbell (5,081), Jamal Lewis (4,757) and LaDainian Tomlinson (4,564).

  • Fourteen of the Vikings' 20 victories over the Saints have been by 10-plus points and seven of them have been by 20-plus points.

  • The Vikings have opened the regular season against the Saints twice previously, beating New Orleans 40-9 in 1976 and losing 31-24 in 1978.

  • Vikings coach Brad Childress is 3-1 in season openers, having beaten Washington (19-16) in 2006, Atlanta (24-3) in 2007 and Cleveland (34-20) in 2009. The Vikings lost to Green Bay, 24-19, in 2008.

  • Vikings defensive line coach Karl Dunbar played defensive tackle for the Saints in 1992 and ‘93.

  • Vikings coach Brad Childress and Saints coach Sean Payton are both graduates of Eastern Illinois.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 28-20-1 — Vikings record in season openers over their first 49 seasons.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm sure they are reading the papers and looking on the Internet, seeing we have only three corners, so we can expect that." — Cornerback Antoine Winfield when asked if he believes the Saints will throw a lot of multi-receiver sets at the Vikings on Thursday night. Minnesota had only three healthy cornerbacks two days before the game.


    Considering how they disrupted the Vikings' offense and came up with five takeaways in the NFC Championship Game in their last meeting, the Saints will likely try to pressure Brett Favre and Co. into some mistakes in their rematch. Then, again, it's what the aggressive Saints love to do under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, so this game should be no different.

    The other thing they really want to do is try and keep Adrian Peterson under wraps to see if they've improved a run defense that ranked 21st in the league last season in allowing 122.2 yards per game.


  • After commenting over the weekend that the Vikings "needed to hit that town like Katrina" when they meet the Saints, former Chicago Bears defensive end Dan Hampton apologized Monday.

    Hampton, issued an apology to the city and Gulf Coast region after residents still stinging from the killer storm became upset upon hearing his remarks made on a Pro Football Weekly television show.

    "I regret it immensely and I am sorry," said Hampton, who uttered the comment when a panel of selectors were making their Week 1 predictions. "It was a horrible choice of words and a stupid comment.

    "Obviously, it was a throwaway line and I meant no ill will or intent," he said Monday. "It was just horribly stupid."

  • Saints owner Tom Benson announced last week that the club's Super Bowl Ring Raffle has surpassed the $1 million mark, funds that will assist those directly impacted by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico this summer.

    Raffle tickets, which cost $2 each, for the authentic Super Bowl ring were purchased from every state in the country and 29 countries worldwide since the details of the raffle was announced by Benson on June 10. The ring will be awarded to a lucky winner prior to the Saints opener with the Vikings.

    Tickets are still available at with a minimum purchase of five tickets required.

    In conjunction with the ring raffle, the NFL has announced that all proceeds generated from its "Back to Football 2010 Kickoff Charity Auction" will be dedicated to the Saints Gulf Coast Renewal Fund.

  • Following the final cuts, the Saints voted on their permanent captains for the 2010 season. They are quarterback Drew Brees and tackle Jon Stinchcomb (offense), middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith (defense), and safety Pierson Prioleau (special teams).

    BY THE NUMBERS: 3-1 — Sean Payton's record in season-opening games since becoming the Saints head coach in 2006.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's still just one game. Afterward, one team is going to be 1-0 and one is going to be 0-1. Hopefully, we're the one that's 1-0." — Saints WR Lance Moore, on the significance of opening the season with a highly-anticipated matchup with the Minnesota Vikings.

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