Monday Night Matchup
The New Orleans Saints turned in their best defensive performance of the season last weekend, thanks to a particularly effective effort against the run.
They're sure to be challenged in their next game as they try to contain one of the NFL's top running backs.
The Saints will have to contend with second-year star Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings when the teams meet at the Superdome in a Monday night matchup.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Saints -3 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Monday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 77% of bets for this game have been placed on Saints -3 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
Though New Orleans (2-2) has surrendered 1,488 yards - the fifth-highest total in the league - through its first four contests, it has been better against the run, limiting opponents to 122.8 per game.
The Saints held San Francisco to a season-low 312 yards - 91 on the ground - in a 31-17 home victory on Sunday.
A matchup with Minnesota (1-3), though, presents a very different set of challenges because of Peterson, who has established himself as one of the league's top backs very quickly.
He carried 238 times for 1,341 yards and 12 touchdowns as a rookie last season, and is showing no signs of a sophomore slump, ranking second in the NFL with 420 yards, two fewer than Atlanta's Michael Turner.
Peterson rushed 18 times for 80 yards in a 30-17 loss at Tennessee on Sunday, the second straight game he was held under 100 yards.
"We've seen some real good runners both at home and on the road, but this guy is the best we've seen to date," coach Sean Payton told the Saints' official Web site. "That's no slight on anyone that we've played to date, but there's something else about him and the guys blocking for him are something else. (Peterson's) big and strong - he's exceptional."
New Orleans could be short-handed on the defensive line, as rookie tackle Sedrick Ellis left practice on Thursday to have his right knee examined.
"He felt it kind of click on him, so we sent him in to have it looked at," Payton said. "Hopefully, it's nothing serious."
While the Vikings' offense revolves around Peterson and the run, the Saints usually pin their hopes on quarterback Drew Brees, the NFL's third-highest rated passer (106.9). New Orleans is averaging a league-best 327.3 passing yards per game.
Brees completed 23 of 35 for 363 yards and three touchdowns against the 49ers, connecting twice with Lance Moore and once with rookie Robert Meachem, who had two receptions for a season-best 99 yards.
The Saints were successful despite playing without injured receiver Marques Colston (thumb) and tight end Jeremy Shockey (abdomen).
With those two sidelined, Deuce McAllister helped pick up the slack. He carried 20 times for 73 yards and a touchdown after he was limited to 10 yards on two carries in a loss at Washington on Sept. 14. The team's all-time leading rusher continues to work his way back after undergoing a second knee operation last fall.
"It was great to see Deuce back in there," Payton said. "Those were some tough yards that he was getting for us."
McAllister hasn't been too successful in his career against Minnesota, totaling 50 carries for 210 yards and three TDs in four games.
The Saints haven't fared well against the Vikings either, losing 17 of 24 regular-season contests, including six of the last seven.
Playing at home didn't provide the Saints with much of an advantage last season as they went 3-5 at the Superdome, but they are undefeated in two games there this year.
New Orleans look to remain perfect at home against a Vikings team that has started 1-3 for the second time in three seasons.
Four turnovers were too much for Minnesota to overcome in Sunday's loss to the Titans.
"Obviously, we have to do a better job of taking care of the football," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "When you spot somebody 21 points on turnovers those are pivotal things. Turnovers is the No. 1 statistic in this business. It's disappointing."
Quarterback Gus Frerotte was responsible for one of those takeaways, tossing an interception in what was an otherwise strong performance. He went 25-for-43 for 266 yards, but hurt his left, non-throwing hand late in the fourth quarter.
Backup Tarvaris Jackson, who was replaced by Frerotte as the starter after Minnesota's 0-2 start, completed one pass for eight yards and was sacked twice. It is unclear which will be under center on Monday.
The Vikings have won their last two visits to New Orleans, including a 38-31 win on Oct. 17, 2004 in their most recent appearance.
Top Trends for this game:
NEW ORLEANS is 39-60 ATS (-27.0 Units) in home games against conference opponents since 1992.
NEW ORLEANS is 16-35 ATS (-22.5 Units) in home games when playing against a team with a losing record since 1992.
NEW ORLEANS is 52-77 ATS (-32.7 Units) in home games since 1992.
NEW ORLEANS is 52-77 ATS (-32.7 Units) in home lined games since 1992.
Key Player Injuries:
[DE] Jayme Mitchell IR - Knee - 08/09/08
[LB] Vinny Ciurciu left last game, "?" - Knee - 09/22/08
[S] Madieu Williams is expected to miss 6 weeks. - Neck - 08/15/08
[DT] Kenderick Allen IR - Wrist - 08/19/08
[LB] Heath Farwell IR - Knee - 08/11/08
[WR] Sidney Rice missed last game, %27?%27 - Knee - 09/21/08
[OT] Bryant McKinnie expected to miss 4 games. - Suspension - 08/14/08
[DE] Kenechi Udeze expected to miss entire season - Illness - 08/16/08
[DB] Aaron Glenn missed last game %27?%27 - Knee - 09/21/08
[TE] Mark Campbell missed last game, "?" - Hamstring - 09/22/08
[RB] Aaron Stecker missed last game %27?%27 - Hamstring - 09/21/08
[OT] Jammal Brown left last game, "?" - Hip - 09/22/08
[CB] Randall Gay left last game, "?" - Hamstring - 09/22/08
[WR] David Patten left last game, "?" - Groin - 09/22/08
[DT] Antwan Lake missed last game %27?%27 - Groin - 09/21/08
[WR] Marques Colston expected to miss 4-6 weeks - Thumb - 09/10/08
[OG] Jamar Nesbit has been suspended for 4 games - Suspension - 09/23/08
[LB] Scott Fujita missed last game is %27?%27 - Knee - 09/22/08
[TE] Jeremy Shockey expected to miss 3-6 weeks. - Hernia - 09/22/08
[LB] Mark Simoneau IR - Back - 09/12/08
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