The Vikings and Saints both have obvious flaws that the other team will try to exploit. Get the game plan and key matchups on each side of the ball for Sunday night's nationally televised contest.
VIKINGS GAME PLAN
The Vikings jumped on top of Houston 21-0 last week by using multiple-receiver sets and RB Mewelde Moore
as a receiver out of the backfield. (In some way, it resembled the old run-and-shoot offense that was popular in Houston when the Oilers were there.)
Anyway, look for much of the same this week. QB Daunte Culpepper
's decision-making and accuracy have been impeccable. He has 13 touchdowns, one interception, a 72.7 completion percentage and a 126.0 passer rating. Why not place the game in his hands on the road, on national television against the 29th-ranked defense?
Defensively, look for the Vikings need to play tighter pass coverage. That will enable the improving front four more time to pressure the quarterback.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Vikings ROT Nat Dorsey vs. Saints LDE Charles Grant. Dorsey was penalized for three false starts and a holding penalty that was declined during his first NFL start last week. Grant is tied for the league lead with seven sacks. He also has the advantage of playing at home in a dome in front of a prime-time crowd on national television.
Vikings WRs Randy Moss and Marcus Robinson vs. Saints CBs Ashley Ambrose and Mike McKenzie. Moss and Robinson combined for 14 catches, 240 yards and four touchdowns in last week's 34-28 overtime victory at Houston. Each had a 50-yard touchdown catch, including Robinson's game-winner on the second possession of overtime. Ambrose, a 13-year veteran in his first season with the Saints, has two interceptions. McKenzie is making his first start for the Saints since being traded to New Orleans from Green Bay. Former starter Fred Thomas, a nine-year veteran, is only 5-foot-9 and would have had a hard time matching up with Moss or Robinson.
Vikings CBs Antoine Winfield, Brian Williams and Terrence Shaw vs. Saints WRs Donte' Stallworth and Joe Horn. The Vikings pass defense ranks last in the NFL. Last week, Texans WR Andre Johnson caught 12 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns. The Vikings will need to play tighter coverage this week. Horn leads the Saints with 31 catches for 382 yards and three touchdowns. Stallworth is averaging only 12.4 yards per catch, but he's a deep threat.
SAINTS GAME PLAN
Now that they've gotten the running game going again with more than 140 yards on the ground in two of the last three games, the Saints need to get their passing attack on track.
This week's game with the Vikings could give them the opportunity to do just that as the Vikings rank last in the NFL in passing defense at 293.8 yards per game. Minnesota is also tied for 30th in total yards allowed, so getting a good mix of run and pass will be essential to keeping the Vikings' offense off the field.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Saints secondary vs. Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper. With Culpepper carving up defenses from coast to coast so far this season, the Saints will have their hands full trying to stop him from running or just standing back and picking out his receivers.
Saints cornerback Mike McKenzie vs. Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss. McKenzie played with the Packers the last five seasons, so he knows exactly what he'll be going against Sunday.
Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks vs. Vikings secondary. The Vikings are last in the NFL in pass defense, so the Saints will have to take advantage of that early and often. The Vikings are allowing 293.8 yards a game, so it'll be important to at least explore their opportunities when they have a chance to get Joe Horn, Donte Stallworth and Jerome Pathon free.