On facing his old team, Adrian Peterson said of the Minnesota Vikings, "I want to stick it to them." On facing his old running back, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said, "It's not about Adrian Peterson." And while that storyline is an intriguing one, Zimmer is right, it's not what the game is about.
It's more so about which team's weaker unit has gotten stronger in the offseason. That would be the revamped Vikings offense and the retooled Saints defense.
Last year the Vikings had the worst rushing attack in the NFL. Enter Dalvin Cook. Exit Adrian Peterson. Cook will be running behind and Sam Bradford will be passing behind an offensive line that has four new starters and the lone returning starter from a year ago starting in a new position. Bradford was sacked a career-high 37 times last season. While he completed an NFL record 72 percent of his passes, it was largely because of short and intermediate throws without the luxury of time and protection to look downfield.
Will he have that luxury and will Cook find those holes in a Saints defense that was among the worst in the NFL a year ago? Was the Saints' apparent improvement at all three levels of their defense, as evidenced by their performance in preseason, truly indicative of its increased strength? Or just the mirage of the exhibition season and all the perennial problems on that side of the football will resurface with the resumption of games that count?
You expect the Saints offense and the Vikings defense to be their usual strong selves. But you don't know what to expect from the Saints defense and the Vikings offense. And on their improvement, or lack thereof, the game will probably be decided.
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