WHEN: Noon Sunday
WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Superdome
RADIO: WWL-AM, 870 in New Orleans; KMDL-FM, 97.3 in Lafayette; WDGL-FM, 98.1 in Baton Rouge
RECORDS: Vikings 1-1, Saints 0-2
LAST WEEK: With star running back Adrian Peterson inactive following his indictment on an accusation that he abused his 4-year-old son by whipping him with a tree branch, the Vikings were routed at home by New England 30-7. Meanwhile, the Saints had a one-point lead late in the fourth quarter on the road in Cleveland but couldn’t prevent a 29-yard, game-winning field goal with three seconds left that vanquished them 26-24.
COACHES: Vikings, Mike Zimmer, 1st season (1-1); Saints, Sean Payton, 8th season (73-41)
(League ranks in parentheses)
Points: Saints, 58 (2nd); Vikings, 41 (24th)
Total yards: Saints, 869 (3rd); Vikings, 572 (29th)
Rushing: Saints, 313 (5th); Vikings, 239 (T-16th)
Passing: Saints, 556 (6th); Vikings, 333 (32nd)
Points: Saints, 63 (31st); Vikings, 36 (T-8th)
Total yards: Saints, 892 (30th); Vikings, 610 (7th)
Rushing: Saints, 245 (T-21st); Vikings, 222 (16th)
Passing: Saints, 647 (32nd); Browns, 388 (8th)
Vikings: Quarterback Matt Cassel, running back Adrian Peterson, wide receiver, kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson, wide receiver Greg Jennings, cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, defensive lineman Tom Johnson
Saints: Quarterback Drew Brees, tight end Jimmy Graham, running back Khiry Robinson, linebcker Junior Galette, safety Jairus Byrd, cornerback Keenan Lewis
Offense: An obvious key to victory for the Saints will be stopping Adrian Peterson. The three-time first-team All Pro and former NFL MVP will be a tough test for a defense that, through two games in 2014, is giving up 6 more yards per game than the 2012 Saints defense that surrendered the most yards in NFL history.
Defense: The Vikings defense played well in a 34-6 victory at St. Louis, limiting the Rams to 72 yards rushing and 246 yards passing. Against New England, the defense was not the reason the Vikings were blown out, holding the Patriots to 150 yards rushing and 142 yards passing. They lost largely because Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel threw four interceptions in the defeat.
Special teams: Cordarrelle Patterson has been quiet so far this year, but that can change at any moment if the Saints aren’t careful. As a rookie in 2013, he returned two kickoffs for scores to lead the NFL and was second in kickoff return yardage with 1,393, meriting an invitation to the Pro Bowl as well as first-team All-Pro honors. One of his kickoff returns was a 109-yarder that is the longest play in NFL history, hinting at how explosive Patterson can be in this phase of the game.
-- Expect plenty of debate about whether the Vikings should allow Peterson to play, given the child abuse case pending against him. There was also a report Monday from a Houston television station that Peterson had been previously accused of abusing another 4-year-old child of his, but that investigation did not produce any charges.
-- The Saints will be glad to return to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, where they were 8-0 in 2011 and 2013, the previous two seasons Sean Payton was available to coach them. Payton was suspended for 2012 in the bounty scandal, and the Saints were 4-4 at home that year.
-- The Vikings have lost their past three encounters to the Saints: the NFC Championship Game in January 2010, after which New Orleans won Super Bowl XLIV; the opener the following season; and in Week 15 of 2011. The NFC title game and the 2010 season opener were at the Superdome.
-- The Saints offensive line will clash with a familiar face: Vikings defensive lineman Tom Johnson, who was with New Orleans from 2011 to 2013. Johnson is tied for the Vikings’ team lead in quarterback sacks with two and has Minnesota’s lone forced fumble.
In New Orleans, Johnson had five quarterback sacks and 35 solo tackles in 40 regular-season games. This year’s two sacks tie his season-best, accomplished in 2012 and 2013.
-- The Saints leading rusher, running back Mark Ingram, is out with a broken hand after picking up 143 yards and three touchdowns off 24 carries this season. The Saints’ second-most productive piece in the ground game is running back Khiry Robinson, who has 59 yards and a touchdown on 14 rushes.
The Saints on Tuesday signed running back Edwin Baker to their practice squad. Baker, a 2012 seventh-round draft selection out of Michigan State for San Diego, played three games for Cleveland in 2013. He scored two touchdowns and rushed for 171 yards on 43 carries for the Browns, who cut him this preseason. He also had eight catches for 57 yards.
To make room for Baker on the practice squad, the Saints cut cornerback Trevin Wade.