Thursday Night Football: 10 Bold Predictions for Vikings-Saints Opener

Sam WestmorelandFeatured ColumnistSeptember 9, 2010

Thursday Night Football: 10 Bold Predictions for Vikings-Saints Opener

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    NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 24:  Robert Meachem #17 of the New Orleans Saints looks to run for yards after the catch against the Minnesota Vikings during the NFC Championship Game at the Louisiana Superdome on January 24, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Sai
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    The 2010 NFL regular season kicks off with a dose of Thursday night football, and it's going to be a doozy. 

    The Minnesota Vikings will face off against the New Orleans Saints in a rematch of the most exciting postseason game from last season, in what promises to be the best game of Week 1. 

    Can Brett Favre and company avenge last season's heartbreaking title game loss? Or will Brees, Bush, and the Saints prove that their victory was no fluke? 

    Here are 10 bold predictions about Thursday's clash. 

10. Jared Allen Doesn't Record a Sack

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    MINNEAPOLIS - JANUARY 17: Defensive end Jared Allen #69 of the Minnesota Vikings walks off the field during halftime while playing against the Dallas Cowboys during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on January 17, 2010 in Min
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Allen, a defensive end for the Vikings, is one of the game's best pass rushers. But he was held sackless in last year's title tilt, thanks in large part to some excellent planning by the Saints. 

    With as much time as they've had to prepare for this game, odds are good they'll neutralize Allen once more, and he'll have yet another disappointing performance. 

9. Drew Brees Tops 400 Yards Passing

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    NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 27:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints in action against the San Diego Chargers at the Louisiana Superdome on August 27, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Brees is the conductor of the symphony that is the Saints' offense. In the title game last year, he threw three touchdown passes, but only racked up a pedestrian 197 yards. With the Vikings' pass rush neutralized, their pass defense is incredibly vulnerable to attack, and the Saints will exploit that. Expect 400 yards passing from the former Purdue Boilermaker in this one. 

8. Adrian Peterson Will Have 150 Rush Yards and No Fumbles

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    SAN FRANCISCO - AUGUST 22:  Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings runs with the ball during their preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on August 22, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The biggest knock on Peterson during the course of his NFL career has been his hands. He's committed a number of fumbles in his career, and had two in last year's matchup with the Saints. This year? An offseason training regimen has Peterson holding the ball close to his body, and he has supposedly turned the corner like Tiki Barber did in New York. 

    If that's the case, expect the Vikings to ride him hard. 175 yards and two touchdowns is definitely in play with the Saints' swiss cheese run defense. 

7. The Saints Defense Will Record Five Sacks

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    NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 24:  Brett Favre #4 of the Minnesota Vikings picks himself off the turf against the New Orleans Saints during the NFC Championship Game at the Louisana Superdome on January 24, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints won 31-28 in
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    In the title game, the Saints defense battered Brett Favre into a pulp. They didn't register a sack, but it didn't stop them from hitting the Vikings quarterback on numerous pass plays through the evening. This time? Expect them to get there in time to rack up some ticks in the sack column, at least five, to be exact. 

6. Percy Harvin Plays and Has a Big Game

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    NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 24:  Percy Harvin #12 of the Minnesota Vikings returns a punt against the New Orleans Saints during the NFC Championship Game at the Louisiana Superdome on January 24, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints won 31-28 in overtime.
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Harvin has missed a significant chunk of the preseason with debilitating migraine headaches. At one point, he had to be rushed from practice with the team because they had caused him to collapse on the sidelines. 

    But there are reports that his most recent attack may have found the cause of the headaches, and if that's the case, expect Harvin not only to play, but to have a big game for the Vikings. 

5. Devery Henderson Re-Announces His Presence in New Orleans

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    MIAMI GARDENS, FL - FEBRUARY 07: Devery Henderson #19 of the New Orleans Saints goes up for a ball against Tim Jennings #23 of the Indianapolis Colts during Super Bowl XLIV on February 7, 2010 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Dona
    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    Henderson is the speedy deep-threat wideout in New Orleans who appeared doomed to irrelevance at multiple points last season. And heading into the 2010 season, it appeared as though his spot as the second starting wideout beside Marques Colston was in jeopardy from Robert Meachem. 

    But Henderson has had a renaissance in the preseason, and heads into Thursday's clash as a starter. Look for him to pay big dividends in this game, and send thousands of fantasy football owners scrambling to pick him up. 

4. Brett Favre Will Get Hurt and Throw for Fewer than 200 Yards

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    NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 24:  Brett Favre #4 of the Minnesota Vikings grabs the back of his right leg as he sits on the turf after getting knocked down on a play against the New Orleans Saints during the NFC Championship Game at the Louisiana Superdome on Ja
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The Saints will come after Favre early and often. And his ankle is still just as balky as it was last year. So don't be surprised to see him come up hobbling after a couple of hits. I don't think he'll come out, but I also don't think Brad Childress will keep throwing the ball as much if he is. 

3. Reggie Bush Breaks 100 Total Yards

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    NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 27:  Reggie Bush # 25 of the New Orleans Saints is tackled by Kevin Burnett #99 of the San Diego Chargers at the Louisiana Superdome on August 27, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Bush may not be the running back most people were expecting when the Saints picked him first overall. But he is arguably the most versatile player in the NFL, and certainly one of its most explosive. 

    He won't top 100 rushing yards in this one, nor will he hit the century mark receiving. But combine the two, and he'll definitely eclipse it, proving his value. 

2. The Game Will Be Decided in the Final Minute

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    NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 27:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints in action against the San Diego Chargers at the Louisiana Superdome on August 27, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    This game pits two of the NFC's best teams against one another. All indications are it's going to be a battle right until the end. Don't be surprised to see it come down to the final possession, or even the final play. 

1. History Will Repeat Itself

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    NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 24:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates after the Saints won 31-28 in overtime against the Minnesota Vikings during the NFC Championship Game at the Louisiana Superdome on January 24, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    The Saints have too many weapons offensively for the Vikings defense to stop them. The Vikings offensive line is questionable, and will put Favre in jeopardy a lot. 

    Final Score: Saints 28, Vikings 24.