You know that game time is getting close when we share questions and answers with a blogger representing the SB Nation website of the Saints next opponent, so you'll be happy to know that's exactly what I've got lined up for you today. I had the pleasure to query contributing writer Ted Glover over at Daily Norseman about the Vikings and their upcoming matchup against the Saints this Thursday. Ted's answers were valuable and insightful.
Make the jump to read our exchange in it's entirety. Then be sure to read my answers to his questions right here at the Daily Norseman. Much thanks to Ted Glover for his time and participation.
CSC: Are you worried about Favre's age finally catching up with him? Do you expect him to follow up last seasons impressive performance with another and why?
DN: I'm not, actually. For the last 64 seasons we've been dealing with the Favre retirement drama, and in the last three it's been an injury on top of that. First the thumb, I think it was, then the shoulder, now the ankle. I don't know if Favre is genuinely concerned about his ailment du jour, or if he's doing a kind of rope-a-dope strategy to make it look like he's one good hit away from retirement, then miraculously guts through it with a heroic, superhuman effort that is more overblown than it really is. Either way, I don't see him missing a start or a snap of any significance this season. I used to think he was one hit away from being done, but no more. The guy defies conventional wisdom, and I feel he will this year as well.
DN: No and yes, and a very timely question as we have some breaking news about the Vikes CB's. The day the trade was made, it was a solid move for the Vikings. Rookie Chris Cook has had a great training camp and pre-season, and moved up the depth chart like a rocket, which is why Sapp was expendable. The day after the trade, Cook tore his meniscus and will miss two weeks, making the move questionable, as Lito Sheppard has looked like the guy that was picked last in playground games so far this pre-season. But just today defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said he has not ruled out Cedric Griffin for Thursday's game. Griffin is the starter opposite Antoine Winfield who tore his ACL in last year's NFC Championship game, and if he's healthy, or can at least contribute in a nickel role, I can live with the Winfield/Asher Allen/Griffen triumvirate. Once Cook is healthy, I think the Vikes will have one of the deeper talent pools in CB in the league. Safety is still a question mark, quite frankly. Madieu Williams and Tyrell Johnson (or Jamarca Sanford, not sure who the starter is) need to really improve on lackluster 2009 season.
CSC: How do the Saints shut down Adrian Peterson? What have other teams done to successfully achieve this goal?
DN: In 2008, it wasn't possible, not for a whole game. Put 8 men in the box, and he'll still eventually break one. Last year, the Vikings offensive line had some injury issues, and their performance dropped, but Peterson was still a beast. The great thing about having Favre is that if you put 8 men in the box, he'll check out of it and burn you with a pass, something Tarvaris Jackson couldn't do. That said, if the Saints play their gaps, pursue to the ball laterally, and disguise their run coverage support, they have a chance. One of the overlooked things from the NFCCG is that yeah, Peterson fumbled three times, but he also ran for over 120 yards and three scores. The Vikes offensive line appears to be healthy for the first time since LAST season's opener, so I like the matchup, to be honest. Especially with the Saints injury issues at linebacker.
CSC: What do you expect the Vikings game plan to include on Thursday night?
DN: Exactly what it was the last time the two teams met, minus the turnovers. Gregg Williams brought pressure, and Favre took a beating, but he wasn't sacked. Minnesota had some big plays when the Saints blitzed, Peterson ran as well as he had since the beginning of the year, and Favre distributed the ball well. Like last time, I expect long sustained drives that eat the clock, a desire to establish the run early, and an attempt to take the crowd out of the game early and make them a non-factor. On defense, they need to bring a lot more pressure than they did last time, and try to make Brees uncomfortable in the pocket. If he has time, he'll be Drew Brees and rake the defense.
Oh, and NO #$%^@# TURNOVERS!!!!!! Sorry, I'm much better now.
CSC: This is only the first game of the season yet it's being built up like a playoff game because of how close last years NFC Championship Game was and the way it all unfolded. Are you expecting a similar matchup; another close nail biter? Do you think this game will bring any sort of closure to the two teams fanbases?
DN: I expect a very good game, much like last time. The Saints and the Superdome will be fired up, but so will the Vikings, as there is very much a sense of ‘that should/could have been us', and I think that will fire up the Vikings. Will it be closure for us? Well, I can't speak for the entire fanbase, but for me, it won't even be close. If the Vikings win, it will be one win in the first of a 16 game season, where anything could happen. No, the Vikings have been here before. In 1999, they went on the road for their opener and beat Atlantaafter losing the '98 NFC Championship. Big deal, they won a game and almost didn't make the playoffs that year.
And no offense, but why would you guys need closure from this game? Win or lose, you still won the Super Bowl last year, and the Saints beat the Vikings last year in the biggest game in their team's history, up to that point. If the Vikes win a Super Bowl in my lifetime, I don't care if they go 0-16 for the next three years afterwards. Honestly, I wouldn't. It would mean that much to me.
CSC: Bonus: Care to make a prediction?
DN: I like the Vikings in this game. The motivation of seeing that championship banner raised will very much be a two way street on Thursday, one I think the Vikings can use to their advantage. The offensive line looks to be healthy, the secondary is getting healthy, and your linebacker situation looks to be something the Vikings can really exploit.
Vikings win, 31-27.