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Anthony Stalter
National Blogger

Anthony Stalter

Senior Sports Editor for The Scores Report

Expect a shootout

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Does anyone else get the sense that the Vikings are in store for a freefall this year? Minus Sidney Rice, it's practically the same team that came a Brett Favre scramble and a Ryan Longwell field goal away from reaching the Super Bowl last year, but my gut tells me more disappointment is on the way for Minnesota fans.

There are too many questions surrounding this Vikings team, namely Favre's health and whether or not the secondary can play consistently. Favre had to have surgery earlier this offseason on the foot he messed up in the NFC title game last year and who knows if it'll hold up.

The secondary is the bigger problem though. Antoine Winfield remains the team's most vital piece, but a broken foot hampered him during the second half of 2009. He says the foot is fully recovered and the Vikings better hope it is, because there's not much depth behind him.

It's going to be awhile before Cedric Griffin returns from a torn ACL, which means Lito Sheppard will start opposite Winfield at the right cornerback position. Sheppard played decent last year in Rex Ryan's scheme, but how much of that was because of the players he had around him? He's injury prone himself and as a starter, highly inconsistent.

The safety position is a bigger mess. Free safety Madieu Williams is a nice centerfielder, but he can't seem to stay healthy and his play was spotty at best last season. That's not good considering Tyrell Johnson struggles in deep coverage himself.

That said, the Vikings know what their strength is defensively, which is getting after the quarterback. They have two outstanding ends in Jared Allen and Ray Edwards, who can focus on pressuring the quarterback because Kevin Williams and Pat Williams play the run so well.

The Cowboys laid the blue print for how to stop Drew Brees and the Saints' explosive passing game during a nationally televised regular season contest last year. DeMarcus Ware made Jermon Bushrod look like the New Orleans' offensive tackle was playing on top of a turnstile and the result was Brees being pressured all night.

Of course, that was also the night that Brees failed to adjust his blocking protection and it was the first time all season where he and Sean Payton were behind the 8-ball in terms of what their opponents were doing.

But Brees and Payton will be at the top of their games this Thursday night, which is why I'm predicting the Saints over the Vikings. Minnesota certainly has the pass-rushers to get to Brees, but I think he'll have a field day throwing on the Vikes' secondary.

That said, I wouldn't be shocked if the Saints had some defensive troubles themselves. They're soft up the middle and have a huge question mark at free safety in second year player Malcolm Jenkins, who is a converted corner.

I say this one lives up to the hype and we see a shootout:

Saints 34
Vikings 31

By Anthony Stalter  |  September 7, 2010; 10:50 AM ET  | Category:  Minnesota Vikings , NFL , New Orleans Saints Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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