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.
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.
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."
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 www.saintsgulfcoastrenewal.org 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.
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.