Get the keys to the game, fast facts and injury updates from both camps as we scroll through the basics of Thursday night's matchup.
Minnesota Vikings (0-0) at New Orleans Saints (0-0)
KICKOFF: Thursday, 8/30 p.m. ET
SURFACE: Artificial turf
TV: NBC (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Andrea Kremer)
KEYS TO THE GAME
Vikings QB Brett Favre
was battered and bruised by the Saints in last January's conference championship game, and now he faces that defense again after being with the team for only three weeks. The loss of WR Sidney Rice
for at least the first six weeks of the season takes away a weapon that totaled 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns last season. The health of WR Percy Harvin
is also a question, and this game could be migraine-inducing for the entire Vikings team.
The Saints seek to pick up where they left off after last season's Super Bowl victory, and emotions will be high in the Superdome. Without fully healthy stable of cornerbacks, the Vikings will be hard-pressed to slow down the New Orleans offense.
Favre has a streak of 287 consecutive games played and needs three touchdown passes to reach 500 for his career
The Saints scored 510 points last season, ninth-most in NFL history. The Saints and 1999 Rams are the only teams in the top 10 in points for a season that won the Super Bowl that year.
CB Chris Cook won't play and it's almost certain that Cedric Griffin will be limited, leaving the Vikings with three healthy corners against one of the NFL's better quarterbacks in Drew Brees. This could be a nightmare scenario. Wide receiver Sidney Rice, who was Brett Favre's favorite target last season, is out for at least six weeks and probably more after having hip surgery.
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).
CB Chris Cook, who is recovering from a torn meniscus in his right knee, is not practicing this week and will sit out Thursday's opener against the Saints.
DT Jimmy Kennedy (knee) has not practiced this week and is out.
RB Toby Gerhart (knee) has been limited in practice this week and his status for Thursday is questionable.
S Jamarca Sanford (ankle) has been limited in practice this week but will be ready to go Thursday.
C John Sullivan has been limited in practice after missing most of training camp because of a calf injury. He is expected to start.
QB Brett Favre has landed on the injury report after having offseason surgery to repair his left ankle but he hasn't missed any practice time.
The Saints suffered a big loss in the final preseason game with the Tennessee Titans when starting weak-side linebacker Jonathan Casillas was lost for the season with a Lisfranc fracture in his foot.
Casillas, a second-year pro, was promoted to the first-team defense after the first exhibition game when he filled in for regular starter Scott Shanle. After that outing, Shanle was switched to the strong side to replace Scott Fujita, who left in free agency, and Casillas was penciled in as a new starter.
Saints coach Sean Payton was coy all week about who would replace Casillas for Thursday night's season-opening game with the Minnesota Vikings. But the likely candidate is second-year pro Jo-Lonn Dunbar, who started five games the last two seasons on the strong side when Fujita was injured.
The good news is that Shanle, who has played both the weak and strong sides, and Dunbar, who has that ability as well, give the Saints some flexibility at the outside linebacker spots.
DL Anthony Hargrove was added to the injury report Tuesday after missing practice with a knee problem.
T Zach Strief, the team's most experienced backup lineman, was held out of practice Tuesday with a right knee injury after being limited Monday. He is questionable.
LB Stanley Arnoux, who has been sidelined since Aug. 12 with a high-ankle sprain, did not practice again Tuesday and is out.
RB Chris Ivory, who injured his left knee in the final preseason game, did not work Tuesday and his status for the Vikings is not known.
MLB Jonathan Vilma, who left the Aug. 27 preseason game with San Diego because of a groin injury, was limited Tuesday and is probable.
CB Tracy Porter was limited again in practice Tuesday because of soreness in his left knee and is probable.
WR Marques Colston again participated fully in practice on Tuesday despite a bruised kidney that he suffered in the final preseason game.
TE Jimmy Graham, who missed two weeks in the preseason with a high-ankle sprain, worked fully Tuesday and should be ready for Thursday night.
S Pierson Prioleau, a special teams standout who had a knee injury in the preseason, had full participation in practice again Tuesday.
Saints All-Pro free safety Darren Sharper, who was placed on the reserve/physically-unable-to-perform list last week, said his only concern right now is to get healthy and be ready for the seventh game of the season.
Sharper, who had microfracture surgery on his left knee in March, must sit out at least six games. After the team's sixth game, he can begin practicing and be activated at any time thereafter.
While he understood why he was put on the PUP list, Sharper was still disappointed about missing the first six games — particularly the opener with the Vikings, whom he played with from 2005-08.
"It's frustrating because I want to play, especially in a game like this one," Sharper said. "There's so many things that make you want to play — the first game of the year, the excitement. I just have to focus on coming back strong and helping this team when it comes to making a push to the playoffs."