Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints
This is a no brainer.
Not only are the defending Super Bowl champions big winners in Week 1, but the Vikings are hurt at wide receiver and quarterback. Yes, Favre still played well, but that ankle is going to be a problem throughout the season.
He may start every game, but how many will he complete or be effective? I'm not betting on Favre until after Week 4, and we have a good idea of what to expect from him.
Also, Favre does not want to play against New Orleans again. He is afraid of their pass rush. He was likely to sit out Week 1 feigning retirement just to avoid playing the Saints.
Unfortunately, his teammates decided Favre was their only shot at a winning season. After this season, his teammates will be wishing Favre stayed in Mississippi.
So with the loss of Sydney Rice, Percy Harvin's migraines, and Favre's ankle, plus the success of the defending champs in Week 1, I have to take the Saints.
Typically, I look a lot deeper than that, but it is hard to overlook those glaring weights. But here is a little deeper for those who need it:
New Orleans will be a juggernaut again on offense. They have retained all the talent at wide receiver that they had last season, plus Reggie Bush has a bigger chip on his shoulder.
Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory will be better than people expect, but do not expect anything from them against Minnesota. The Vikings defense is solid against the run and presents an effective pass rush, but their secondary is a concern. Two starters with one or two years of experience? Not good.
Also, they do not have enough depth in the secondary to cover the four very talented WRs of the Saints.
On the other side of the ball, the Saints defense will be good, but remember that last season they were a turnover machine. Don't expect the same success as teams will now have plenty of film on how to beat the Saints defense.
Adrian Peterson will run hard and well as even the best defense can only hope to contain a fierce running back like him, but his change of pace, Toby Gerhart, is not nearly as good as Chester Taylor in running, receiving, or pass protection.
AP will be taxed even more causing Favre to pass too often late in the game (as he did last season) and make mistakes due to his fear of the Saints defense.
All that leads me to believe the Saints will score at least three touchdowns while the Vikings are likely to only manage two, but field goals on both sides could be plentiful as both offenses can move the ball.
Look for a +40 total points with the Saints by more than a touchdown and maybe even a field goal.
PICK: New Orleans Saints
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