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Interview with the Enemy: Injured Vikings secondary could struggle against Saints

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Christopher Gates of Daily Norseman joins us to preview our Week 8 matchup.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - New Orleans Saints Pro Bowl wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) catches a touchdown from Saints quarterback Drew Brees (not pictured) after torching Minnesota Vikings All-Pro, Pro Bowl cornerback Xavier Rhodes (29) in coverage during the N Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Another week of football, and another week of our Interview with the Enemy series. This week, our friend, Christopher Gates of Daily Norseman, answers 5 quick questions about our week 8 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday Night Football.

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So let’s get this one out of the way early: What happened against the Bills?

The Bills’ game was just strange. The Vikings got themselves in a hole early because of some turnovers that gave the Bills short fields, and just couldn’t claw their way out when they became one-dimensional. (Well, more one-dimensional, I guess.) Some people might think that it had something to do with the Everson Griffen situation that started earlier that week, but I’m not sure how much weight that holds.

In all honesty, and I’m guessing you won’t find anyone in that locker room that will say this, but I think they were looking past the Bills a bit. They had a Thursday night game coming up against the Rams on a short week, and I think they might have been looking ahead to that one. Whatever the reason was, though, the team has started playing significantly better since then, so hopefully we won’t see an aberration like that again this season.

Adam Thielen is having a monster year - has he become the new “#1” WR for the Vikings, or is still Stefon Diggs?

It’s really hard to argue that the guy that’s leading the NFL in receptions and receiving yardage is a team’s #2 guy, and with as talented as Stefon Diggs is, I do think that Adam Thielen is the Vikings’ #1 receiver at this point. For whatever reason, and I’m not sure what that reason would be, I don’t think teams have started committing their #1 corners to Thielen. Maybe it’s because they perceive Diggs as more of a big play threat than Thielen is, but Thielen has made his share of big plays as well. But as things stand right now, I do think that Adam Thielen is the Vikings’ #1 receiver, and is on the short list of the best receivers in the National Football League overall at this point.

Case Keenum, Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater, Lamar Jackson, Kirk Cousins.... Any regrets choosing the latter out of the open QB market this past free agency?

I think that most Vikings fans, at this point, firmly agree that the Vikings made the right decision. Keenum hasn’t exactly been tearing it up in Denver so far, Sam Bradford isn’t even active on Sundays at this point, and Teddy Bridgewater is firmly planted behind Drew Brees on the New Orleans bench. Cousins, on the other hand, has taken full advantage of what might be the best 1-2 receiver pairing in the NFL and the complete lack of a running game for most of this season, and he’s on pace to put up what would easily be the best season of his NFL career. Yes, the price tag for Cousins was more expensive than it would have been for any of those other guys, but it appears that he was worth the premium.

Who is one Vikings player that Saints fans might not be familiar with that you expect to make an impact in this game?

For better or for worse, it might be rookie cornerback Holton Hill. The Vikings have already lost promising rookie Mike Hughes to an ACL tear, and it’s looking unlikely that Xavier Rhodes will play after suffering a foot injury against the Jets last week. That means that Hill is likely going to play a prominent role in this one, and that could be serious trouble when you’re facing a seasoned quarterback like Drew Brees and the weapons that he has at his disposal. Hill has just 39 defensive snaps so far this season, and he could easily double that on Sunday night. How well he holds up could be the difference between the Vikings winning or losing what could end up being a shootout.

What’s your prediction for the game? Final score?

As much as I’d like to predict a Vikings’ win here, with the injury situation on defense I’m not sure if I can do that. I’d like to have faith in Holton Hill, and I think that the potential return of Everson Griffen will give the Minnesota defense a huge boost emotionally as well as on the field, but I’m not sure it’s going to be enough. I think that both defenses are going to have a whole lot of trouble stopping the offenses, but in the end I think the Saints end up pulling out a close one, something like 34-31.

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A big thanks to Christopher for taking the time to answer our questions. Make sure you check out his work and the rest of the good folks at Daily Norseman for tons of Vikings content. You can follow Christopher on Twitter @Gates_DN, Daily Norseman @DailyNorseman, and of course you can always follow me @dunnellz.