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Welcome to watch All Week of the 2017 NFL season will end on Monday, September 11, 2017 when the New Orleans Saints take on the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Monday Night Football.The Saints are led by head coach Sean Payton, quarterback Drew Brees and veteran running back Adrian Peterson.The Vikings are led by head coach Mike Zimmer, quarterback Sam Bradford and one of the league's best defenses.
Kickoff is slated for 7:10 p.m. EST on ESPN as part of a Monday Night Football doubleheader.Here's how our experts see the game playing out.Connor Hughes: I'm not sure what to make of the Saints this year. Yes, quarterback Drew Brees is still there, but how long can this team stay afloat without any semblance of defense? How long will Brees' 38-year-old body withstand the beating of an NFL season?
The Vikings have just as many questions. The biggest quarterback Sam Bradford. He's a solid player when healthy, but has played a full 16-game season just twice in his eight-year career. If he goes down, who's the guy for Minnesota? I'm not a huge fan of either team this year ... but I trust the Saints more. Saints 28, Vikings 14.Darryl Slater: The Vikings will spoil Adrian Peterson's return to Minnesota. But expect Peterson to break off a big run or two. He'll be playing with some fire, for sure, after how things ended between him and the Vikings. Coming off three straight 7-9 seasons, you have to wonder how much Drew Brees and Co. have left. Vikings 24, Saints 17.
James Kratch: Adrian Peterson will have his moments on Monday Night Football against his old team, but not enough of them. The Vikings' defense at home is too much. Vikings 24, Saints 17.Joe Giglio: ESPN will play up the Peterson return angle, but Minnesota's defense will overwhelm and swarm the former star. Give me the home team with the better defense in a closer game than many would think. Vikings 23, Saints 20.The New Orleans Saints are hoping to win their season opener on Monday for the first time since 2013, but the matchup against the Minnesota Vikings won't be easy.
In addition to playing a primetime road game in a loud stadium, the Saints will face a Vikings team with a stellar defense and an offense capable of being efficient.Here are three key matchups that could determine the outcome:Saints offensive tackles vs. Vikings defensive endsRyan Ramczyk's debut at left tackle for the Saints comes at an unfortunate time, but everyone should quickly learn how ready he is.The Vikings boast one of the NFL's top groups of defensive ends with Danielle Hunter, Everson Griffen and Brian Robison. All three had at least 7.5 sacks last season, and Ramczyk will likely face one of them each play.
Don't be surprised if the Saints frequently put a tight end on the left side or have a running back chip to help Ramczyk. No matter how confident the team is in the first-round pick, helping him block seems like a logical move.With a strong season in 2016, right tackle Zach Strief has earned the benefit of a doubt even at age 33, but one misstep by the veteran could result in a negative play. Ramczyk and Strief will have to play well throughout the game to keep Drew Brees upright and help the offense move down the field.Rhodes is aggressive, strong and fast, and his performance the past four years helped him earn a new contract that makes him the third-highest paid cornerback in the NFL in terms of annual value.
Saints at Vikings prediction:
SB Nation’s panel of nine experts leans toward the home team, with six choosing the Vikings to emerge from Monday night with a 1-0 record. Minnesota’s pass defense could be enough to slow Brees down long enough to grind out a win; the Vikes limited opposing passers to a paltry 83.0 rating last fall — despite seeing Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford a combined four times — and ranked fifth in aerial defense.
The toughest challenge for the Saints, though, will be covering Cook because he's such a weapon in the open field. In 2016, Cook averaged 14.8 yards per reception, and with the Vikings likely running a lot of shotgun, Cook will probably be running a lot of routes.As good as the Saints linebackers looked this summer, they still mostly struggled covering rookie running back Alvin Kamara. Kamara and Cook are different players, obviously, but the linebackers will have to cover well in the game to limit Cook's big-play ability.
In 2016, the Minnesota Vikings ran out to a 5-0 start before falling back to earth like a malfunctioning satellite, ending their year at 8-8 and outside the playoffs. On Monday, they’ll look to recapture that early season matchup against the New Orleans Saints. The first Monday Night Football game of the fall kicks off at 7:10 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on ESPN (live stream).
The Vikings and Saints will each look to shake off last season’s mediocrity as they embark on a blossoming new campaign. For Minnesota, this fall will be about following up on 2016’s abandoned promise. For New Orleans, the upcoming season could be the team’s last chance to cement Drew Brees’ legacy with a second Super Bowl championship.Oh, and Adrian Peterson returns to Minnesota after being released by the only NFL team he’d ever known last spring.
Peterson was injured for most of 2016 and not especially good when healthy. As a result, the Vikings ranked dead last in rushing offense last fall, gaining just 3.2 yards per carry as a team. Enter Cook, Florida State’s all-time rushing leader and a dynamic talent who can evade tacklers or drag them into the end zone. Minnesota acquired him with the 41st overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft. The Vikings’ shaky offensive line may struggle to give him space, but Cook’s NCAA bonafides give the team an extra weapon this winter.
But, Thomas is certainly not scared of a challenge. If anything, he seems to relish opportunities against good cornerbacks, and after talking this offseason about his plans to show improvement, Thomas draws a matchup that will give him an opportunity to show whether or not he's grown.With Willie Snead out, Thomas will surely be Brees' go-to target for the next three weeks. Thomas will find it difficult to create separation against Rhodes, so he'll have to showcase his ability to make contested catches.This game will be a test in many ways for the new-look group of Saints linebackers, especially with Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford favoring quick and accurate passes.
The 2017 NFL season officially started on Thursday when the Kansas City Chiefs upset the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, 42-27. For 28 of the remaining 30 teams, their seasons begin this weekend.The Minnesota Vikings will open their season when they host the New Orleans Saints as the first of a doubleheader on Monday night. After a 2-2 preseason, the Vikings look to start off 2017 as they did 2016 when they were the last remaining team to lose a game after a 5-0 start.
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