It’s time to look at weeks 3 and 4 on the Saints schedule which basically means I get to make fun of two of the more hapless organizations in the NFL: the Minnesota Vikings and the Dallas Cowboys. Both teams have talented components who could potentially give the Saints some trouble, but both also suffer from a systemic need to be as absolutely mediocre as possible. Another thing they have in common is that the last time we met them they were annihilated in glorious fashion.
Week 3: Vikings at Saints
Ok let’s be honest here; there is no way that a healthy Saints team is in anyway challenged at home by a mediocre at best Vikings squad. I’m not saying that to bash the Vikings, but just stating the facts. That said, the Vikings do have some talent that should help young quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (I am assuming they will start him here) perform relatively well early in his pro-career. Also, staying honest here, when your last starter was Christian Ponder…not that hard to have relative success. The Vikings still have Greg Jennings at receiver alongside Cordarrelle Patterson and Jerome Simpson, which is a much better receiving core than last year’s production might otherwise indicate. The Vikings also have a decent tight end in Kyle Rudolph who can at times be a fairly dangerous threat down the field (think Gronk without the talent and knack for partying with film stars…the kind that come on after 11pm). That is a decent chunk of talent to give a young QB to work with, too bad they don’t have one REALLY dangerous weapon on the team anymore now that Percy Harvin is gone. What’s that? Peterson?…oh right…him. Yeah, the one guy on that team who could change the entire complexion of this game is Peterson going all Chris Ivory on us, and considering the fact that he is the best back in the league by an enormous margin…not all that far of odds honestly. Let’s just hope that Rob Ryan fixes those holes in the run D this year. The Vikings also have what could be a very good pass rush with rookies Anthony Barr and Scott Crichton looking to fill the hole left by star defensive end Jared Allen. Of the two Crichton actually reminds me a lot of Jared Allen and having seen his relentless pass rush at Oregon State for a couple of years…he will bear watching. That said, both are rookies and neither the Vikings linebacker core nor their secondary really inspire more than a ‘meh’ in opponents…much less an offense like the Saints.
Now on to the good news. The Saints are not only more talented than the Vikings at virtually every position, but they are also better coached with rookie head coach Mike Zimmer taking the helm and most likely not being ready to face the death star that is the Saints in the Dome. Even with the addition of Captain Munnerlyn the Vikings secondary is mostly garbage and should have no hope of covering Stills, Cooks, Colston, or god-forbid (for them) Graham. Drew should be at his usual home self which means I expect this game to be over at the end of the first quarter. Honestly, even if the offense does for some reason struggle early I wouldn’t be surprised if Rob Ryan and his band of swashbuckling marauders take an unusual, and perhaps slightly cruel, amount of pleasure in welcoming Teddy to the NFL in the form of turnovers and sacks. If Cam Jordan though the Falcons drafting Mathews was lunch…then the Vikings o-line is a damned buffet!
Week 4: At the Cowbows
The Dallas Cowboys should represent the Saints first significant challenge of the sea…ahahahahaha I’m sorry guys I just can’t do it. Seriously this team is a mess. They have a joke of a head coach, a jester for an owner/GM, and a quarterback who is the poster child for ‘regression to the mean’…and that’s not even mentioning a defense that at times made the ’12 Saints defense look good. Over the Off-season the Cowboys worked to fix their ailing defense by letting Demarcus Ware go, and by adding Henry Melton and Demarcus Lawrence through the offseason and the draft respectively. Melton is a quality pick up to help plug one of the ten thousand leaks in their front and Lawrence has the potential to be a very good if not an elite pass rusher…eventually. The Cowboys are still a dangerous offense when they get rolling with tons of talent at the skill positions. Dez Bryant is frequently a starter on the all-knucklehead-team, but when he has his head straight Dez is also a tremendously gifted receiver who can give defenses nightmares. Romo might be an up and down QB, but when he is good, he is as good as it gets in the NFL (contrary to popular opinion). They also have a stud of a running back in DeMarco Murray who is one of those backs who drives you crazy. The question with Murray is whether those he drives crazy are his teammates or his opponents with his uneven play, but if he is at the top of his game, he can put the whole Dallas team on his back.
With all that said this game should be a total mismatch, checkout my comments on the predicted curb-stomping of the Falcons and square it to the power of ‘Jerry Jones’. The Saints are one of the most talented teams in the league and if I were to pick one game where Sean Payton chooses to truly unleash rookie receiver Brandin Cooks it will be this one. I think he is going to pull out all of the stops and will absolutely seek to put the Cowboys to bed in ‘Jerry World’ by halftime. I’m not mentioning the Rob Ryan revenge factor because I know ESPN and NFL Network will cover it ad nauseam anyway so why bother.