It’s Week 1, and we’re back again this year with the Interview with the Enemy series. This week, Christopher Gates of Daily Norseman answers 5 quick questions about the upcoming matchup between the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings:
Should the Saints be happy they're facing Sam Bradford at Quarterback instead of Teddy Bridgewater, or is this actually a worse match-up for New Orleans?
I'm not sure how "happy" the Saints should be about facing Bradford at quarterback. I think that Bradford is unfairly maligned because he had to throw a lot of shorter passes in 2016, but that was really the only thing his offensive line afforded him the time to do. When he's given the opportunity to throw longer passes, he's generally very good. With this season being just the second time in his career that Bradford comes into a season healthy and with the same offensive coordinator that he finished the previous season with, I expect him to have a very good year. Bridgewater might be a better option if he was healthy, but I'm not sure if the Saints should rest easy with Bradford at quarterback instead.
What do you expect Adrian Peterson's welcome to be from the fans in Minnesota?
I'm sure that he will get a fairly warm reception during the pre-game ceremonies, though that will change as soon as the game gets started. I know that there are people that are torn on Peterson. He's easily the best running back in the history of the team and one of the greatest Vikings of all time on the field. But, it's hard to ignore what he did off the field, and there are people that are still kind of sore about that. However, he contributed enough positive things to the Vikings over his career that he will be greeted warmly to start with, I believe.
What offensive player for the Vikings do you expect to give the Saints the most trouble on Sunday?
I'm hoping that it's going to be rookie running back Dalvin Cook. The Vikings had the worst rush offense in the game last season, a result of the combination of Peterson being injured and the offensive line being a complete disaster from start to finish. The team has invested in the offensive line, and the drafting of Cook should allow the Vikings to be more unpredictable on offense because Cook can do so many things Peterson couldn't. He can catch out of the backfield, he can pass block if needed, and he can run effectively out of the shotgun. . .all things that Peterson, even after a decade in the league, still doesn't do well. The Vikings' offense is going to make heavy use of Cook, and hopefully he can take advantage.
What player that Saints fans might not have heard of do you expect to make a big impact on the game?
I'll go with Marcus Sherels. He's listed as a cornerback, but his primary function is as a punt returner. Sherels is one of the best punt returners in the National Football League, and gives the Vikings an extra added dimension on special teams that a lot of teams don't have. Punt returners aren't generally thought of as huge pieces of the team, but with a defense like Minnesota's (who should, presumably, force a lot of punts), having someone like Sherels that can improve your team's field position regularly is a big help.
Predictions for the game? Final score?
I think the Vikings are going to be ready to go for this one. With the Saints being short-handed at receiver, hopefully the Vikings' defense will be able to take advantage. On offense, we've heard that the Saints' defense is much improved, but if the Vikings' offensive line comes together, the Minnesota offense will be much improved as well. I think the home field gives the Vikings the edge in this one, and I'll take them by a score of 27-20.
Thank-you, Christopher, for taking the time to answer our questions. Saints fans, make sure you check out Christopher and the work his guys are doing over at Daily Norseman. You can follow them on Twitter @DailyNorseman and you can follow Christopher on Twitter @Gates_DN.