Thursday, September 9, 2010
Are you ready for some Football?
In the instant classic that it was, last years NFC championship game had so many thought provoking twists and turns in it. Between all of the turnovers (Vikings had 5 ouch), the big hits (Brett aged another 3 years after that game) and the intensity of the fans in the Superdome this game had it all.
When you look at the stats, other than the turnovers, it is hard to fathom how the Vikes lost this game. Minnesota won all the measurables that you look for in a contest: Time of posseion Vikes 36:49 to Saints 27:46, Rushing yards Vikes 168 Saints 65, First downs Vikes 31 Saints 15, Total yards Vikes 475 Saints 257, Total plays Vikes 82 Saints 55, Turnovers Vikings 5 Saints 1. What this breakdown demonstrates is that the Vikings controlled the ball, had the offense running effectively, and for the most part held the Saints offense in check.
It can not be understated the effect that turnovers has on games. If you can create opportunities for your offense to have the ball more than the other team by logic you give your team a shot to win. The Saints defense was a perfect example of this. The Saints were 20th in points allowed and 25th in total yards but were 2nd in turnovers. Turnovers dictate big plays. Darren Sharper revived his career with a league leading 9 interceptions and 3 returned for a touchdown. As for Minnesota, Adrian Peterson for the most part punished the Saints defense with 25 carries and 122 yards 3 TDs. The only knack for Peterson is those careless fumbles. No one doubts this man is a beast and every team would love to have him but those turnovers just kill the offense. As well as Brett Favre throwing into coverage, when he could have ran for the first down on the Vikings final drive. Brett will be Brett and the same for Peterson. I give the coaching staff of the Saints all the credit, especially Gregg Williams for designing just a brutal defensive scheme that left Favre leaning toward retirement after the game. Drew Brees will always bring it and as long as he and Sean Payton are together look for a good offensive strategy with this team.
As for tonight's game, you have a lot of different factors going into it. 1. How is the ankle Brett? Favre has reportedly been receiving pain killer shots in his ankle. If he is getting this in week 1, that should worry Minnesota fans. 2. Are the Saints still hungover from partying? I have never really cared about championship celebrations. They are usually filled with dumb speeches (who can forget Shaq with "Can you dig it?"), terrible dancing (Mark Madsen, Robert Kraft, the entire Chicago White Sox team) and crazy fans in attendance. The Saint's celebration was different because it just felt like that region needed to be uplifted. That was until that BP spill thing anyway. I actually wanted to be there and take that one in. Can you imagine a partying for a Super Bowl victory on top of Mardi Gras, are you freaking kidding me? The Saints have good leadership and should be back to speed by now.
In a match up of NFC contenders once again, I have to go with the Saints. They have so many weapons on offense, even more than last year when you add Lance Moore who was injured last year. The run game is sound and the defense is opportunistic. The Vikings are a solid team as well. Brett will show some rust in his first game but once the arm is greased, he will again be the old Favre. The real key to the Vikings will be Adrian Peterson. He has to carry this team until Favre gets hot. I can see getting 25 to 30 carries in the range of 125 to 150 yards. Jared Allen (minus the mullet) will lead the defense and will wreck some havoc but the Saints proved last year they can stand up after being knocked down on offense.
Final prediction: Saints 28 Vikings 24.