Prediction: New Orleans 38, Vikings 20 If you have any ideas on how to slow the NFL's most prolific quarterback with one of the league's weakest secondaries, e-mail Vikings defensive coordinator Fred Pagac immediately. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy the show Drew Brees will likely put on at Mall of America Field.
Fireworks show, ignite! Brees lights the wick for the explosive Saints offense, completing 70.9 percent of his passes. He has also thrown for an NFL-best 4,368 yards, plus 32 touchdowns. This season the Saints offense has 143 drives, with an eye-opening 53 percent of them ending with a TD or field goal attempt. With 366 passing yards Sunday, Brees would become the 13th NFL quarterback to surpass 40,000 career yards. In 92 regular-season starts over six seasons with New Orleans, Brees has averaged 297 passing yards and two touchdowns per game.
Back in the backfield After missing most of the past four games, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson will return to action eyeing two major milestones. He's 128 yards shy of reaching 1,000 rushing yards for the fifth consecutive season and 165 yards away from passing Robert Smith as the team's all-time leading rusher. Peterson, however, may find the sledding tough against an improved Saints run defense. After allowing 113.3 rushing yards per game in the season's first half, New Orleans has allowed just 88.2 yards per game on the ground during its five-game winning streak.
Bragging rights clearly theirs The Saints haven't visited the Twin Cities since September 2005, a game the Vikings won 33-17 with Daunte Culpepper throwing for 300 yards, including two TD passes to Travis Taylor. Yeah, that seems like a long time ago. Besides, the Saints own more recent bragging rights with a 31-28 overtime win in the 2009 NFC title game plus a 14-9 rematch victory eight months later. That playoff loss still leaves many Vikings sour. Says Jared Allen: "That can't be the only memory of being close to the Super Bowl that I tell my grandkids about at some point."
MANO-A-MANO: MATCHUP TO WATCH
Today: Vikings receiver Percy Harvin vs. Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams
About Harvin Over the past five weeks, has 554 yards from scrimmage and an NFL-best 38 catches.
About Williams Blitz-happy defense ranks 20th in sacks, 28th in interceptions, 30th against the pass.Who has the edge? The Vikings use Harvin in so many different ways, he's become harder and harder to contain. He now ranks eighth in the NFL in catches (69) and needs 27 yards from scrimmage to surpass 1,000 for the season.