Familiarity Could Help Vikings Today

The Vikings didn't need to spend as much time watching game film of the Saints as they would most non-divisional opponents -- they know the Saints pretty well.

The Vikings know the New Orleans Saints all too well. While the team has never lost to New Orleans in the last four regular season and postseason games, the team has faced New Orleans more than any other team when they've taken the field in 2001.

Today's game will be the third time the two teams have met since the start of the year and the third time in the Saints last eight games that they have faced the Vikings -- losing their final game of last season, meeting the Vikings in the preseason and playing Minnesota in the preseason.

While the success of the Vikings has been impressive in recent meetings, the Saints will be a huge problem for the Vikings to try to handle. A win would give Minnesota a huge edge in trying to build back postseason aspirations and perhaps familiarity will breed contentment for the Vikings to get things done offensively and defensively today.

* While most people expect the Saints to pound Ricky Williams at the Vikings, VU is hearing that the Saints intend to attack the Vikings with a St. Louis-style pass attack today. In their preseason meeting this year, Aaron Brooks completed all 10 of his passes.
* Robert Tate is likely to see little or no action today. He didn't practice again Friday, working with the scout team and leaving the first unit duties to Kenny Wright and Eric Kelly.
* The Saints run defense has been brutal recently. In their last six regular season games dating back into last season, the Saints have allowed teams to average 168 yards and game rushing.
* Daunte Culpepper has something to worry about. The Saints have registered five sacks in each of their first two games.
* The Saints are the second team the Vikings have faced since the terrorist attacks stopped the season that has been on the shelf for some time. Like Tampa Bay last week, the Saints had their bye week the first game the NFL returned, so they've played just once since Sept. 9.
* Randy Moss has only three receptions in two games vs. the Saints, but they have covered 127 yards and resulted in two touchdowns. Moss is currently sitting at three games without a TD. He's only gone four games without a TD once in his career.
* Jake Reed is downplaying meeting up with his former team, but expect the Vikings to try to get him the ball. Reed began last season as a starter and ended the season by being released by New Orleans.
* Lance Johnstone could be a marked man today. Last year, while playing with Oakland, Johnstone broke QB Jeff Blake's leg and Blake is still angry about it -- perhaps because it gave Brooks the starting job and forced Blake to become a backup once again. In the preseason meeting, Johnstone, who insists the hit on Blake last year was legal and had no malice to it, sacked Blake and, as he celebrated, Blake was hit with an unpsortsmanlike penalty for throwing the football at Johnstone's head.

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