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5 Things We Learned from Saints-Vikings on Monday Night Football

Ty Anderson
September 11, 2017 - 10:41 pm

Nearly a week removed from their NFL Kickoff defeat, the Patriots got a quick peek at what awaits them in Week 2, and a look at their potential venue come February, as the Saints visited the Vikings in the first Monday Night Football game of the season.

In what finished as a 29-19 win for the Vikings, Minnesota and the Saints traded early field goals before the Vikings broke through with a 13-point second quarter, and held the Saints to just 53 yards rushing from their running backs by the end of the night.

On the other side of the ball, the Vikings were on cruise control with their rushing game, with Dalvin Cook rushing for a Vikings opening night rookie record 127 yards in the win.

But here are five things we learned beyond the numbers of an easy-looking Viking win...

5. Physical New Orleans defense could make life hell for Pats

In a night that looked relatively easy from start to finish, the one thing you could say is that the middle of the field did not seem like a fun place to play for the Vikings.

With a rebuilt New Orleans linebacking corps, Minnesota running backs were hit hard and thrown down even harder -- borderline dirty, even -- any time they went up the gut. The Saints also took some tone-setting shots on the Vikings’ wide receivers, too.

That’s not exactly what you want to see in Week 2 if you’re the already battered Patriots, a team that finished with just three healthy wideouts by the end of Week 1.

4. At the same time, their secondary is hot trash...

But don’t confuse physicality for effectiveness, because holy smokes is this defense still absolutely terrible, particularly in their secondary, where they boast two rookie starters.

Sam Bradford exposed that, too, with a near perfect first half (his two incompletions were drops by his wideouts), and particularly exposing that with their vertical threats.

That should leave Tom Brady salivating at the thought of what he could do against the Saints next week, especially with threats like Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan.

Hogan was just one of several Patriots that had a disappointing opening night, with just one catch and eight yards on five targets. Cooks, meanwhile, had three catches and 88 yards on seven targets, including a 54-yard downfield connection with Brady.

Both players can be much, much better for the Patriots, and this game against the Saints should most definitely provide them with ample opportunities to prove that.

At the risk of trying to nullify what Bradford accomplished Monday, if he goes for 340 yards and three touchdowns, imagine what an angry Brady can do against this team?

3. Adrian Peterson already showing unhappiness in New Orleans?

It’s just one game, of course, but it may be fair to wonder if the 32-year-old Adrian Peterson is beginning to regret his offseason decision to sign with the Saints.

In a platoon role with Mark Ingram (something Peterson acknowledged as a possibility and was seemingly OK with before it became a reality), and going against his former team for the first time in his NFL career, Peterson appeared to be visibly frustrated with his usage, which ended with six carries for 18 yards after a stifling Minnesota front seven. 

It’s not the kind of night that Peterson is used to, obviously, and he let it be known, with cameras catching him arguing with Saints head coach Sean Payton in the first half.

At the same time, Peterson didn’t do himself any favorites, with just nine total yards on five carries after the nine-yard rush he had to begin his season.

It’s worth noting that Peterson, the 16th-best rusher in NFL history, had an offseason meeting with the Patriots back in April, but obviously left Foxboro without a deal.

2. The Vikings could be legitimate this season

It almost wasn’t fair to expect Sam Bradford to do much of anything with the Vikings last season. Acquired from the Eagles right before the start of the regular season after a brutal injury to Teddy Bridgewater, Bradford helped will the Vikings to an 8-8 record, including a 7-8 record with him as their starting quarterback. Good stuff? Hardly.  

But with obvious chemistry improvements with Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, and behind a reinforced offensive line, Bradford simply picked the Saints apart, consistently leaving the Saints reeling with intermediate passes that consistently turned to big gains.

The Vikings were also able to noticeably keep the Saints off balance with a running game headlined by Jerick McKinnon and first-year pro Dalvin Cook.

The Minnesota defense, which allowed the third-fewest yards in all of the NFL last season, remained stiff against the competition, too, which is exactly what can keep you afloat in an NFC that honestly seems to be as open as it’s ever been.

With Super Bowl LII slated to be in Minny this season, don’t be surprised if the Vikings attempt to build themselves as the Texans of 2017, and give these thoughts of a rare hometown Bowl a legitimate run behind this powerful defense.

1. Clearly, Tom Brady wasn’t the only veteran quarterback with a rough Week 1

Linked because of their proximity in age and effectiveness into the twilight of their careers, Tom Brady and Drew Brees had mirroring Week 1 showings.

For the wrong reasons.

In a night in which Brees finished 27-for-37 for 291 yards and a touchdown, Brees failed to successfully direct the offense and be the leg-up needed against Minnesota’s D.

With an oddly conservative first half gameplan from the Saints, Brees found his team down 13 points late in the third quarter, and struggling to get in rhythm up and down the field. It was then that Brees was at the five-yard line with a second and goal, just 15 feet from the score needed to make this a game for his club. But what followed was anything but what we’re used to seeing from Brees, as he threw two bad passes at the feet of his receivers before Will Lutz had to come in for his third field goal of the night.

Brees was back in this exact situation midway through the fourth quarter, but once again failed to find an answer, and Lutz came in for his fourth field goal of the night.

In fact, the 38-year-old Brees’ first and only touchdown of the night came with 1:56 left in the fourth quarter, and while it capped an 8-for-8 drive for the veteran quarterback, it came with the Vikings clearly playing more of a relaxed, garbage time defense.

The consistent ineffectiveness was clearly maddening for Brees. It was also a near direct comparable to what Brady looked like against the Chiefs last week.

Both of these quarterbacks are known for their ability to bounce back, if we’re to believe that these rumors of their old age finally catching up to them are just that, we probably should expect nothing less come Week 2.

So, 45-42 shootout on the way?

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