Adrian Peterson is back in town, and for all of the focus on his return, stopping Drew Brees might be the Vikings’ biggest challenge. Their revamped offense, though, gets a chance to emerge from its preseason stupor against a Saints defense with eight new starters. Prediction: Vikings 20, Saints 17.
Three big story lines
Peterson has shown a tendency to come into openers a little too amped up, so we’ll see if his fervor against his old team is a good thing. Vikings defenders get to hit the player they were told not to touch during practice for years.
The Vikings’ starting offensive line didn’t play a snap together in the preseason. Mike Remmers will have to handle Cameron Jordan, while the Saints figure to test how Riley Reiff and Nick Easton have jelled.
The Vikings will show off Peterson’s successor: second-round pick Dalvin Cook, who likely will be the team’s primary back and should get plenty of work on zone runs and passes out of the backfield.
Two key matchups
VIKINGS RT MIKE REMMERS VS. SAINTS DE CAMERON JORDAN
Remmers will be tasked with handling one of the top pass rushers in the league. According to Football Outsiders, Jordan was fifth in the NFL last season with 42 quarterback pressures — four more than Everson Griffen and Von Miller.
Saints QB Drew Brees vs. Vikings CB Mackensie Alexander
Tramaine Brock, traded to the team Sept. 1, could get some work at nickel corner if he plays. But assuming Alexander is the slot corner, he’ll likely be tested with quick throws by Brees.
One stat that matters
4 Times Brees threw at least two interceptions in a game last season (the Saints were 1-3 in those games).
The Vikings will win if …
They can get some pressure on Brees, force him into mistakes and keep Sam Bradford clean against a team that blitzes more than most.
The Saints will win if …
Brees has time to find targets such as Michael Thomas or rookie Alvin Kamara, while Bradford is again stuck in down-and-distance situations that killed many Vikings drives last season.
Goessling’s win probability