Today is the second day of the first week in the NFL preseason. One of the two games for Friday’s slate is the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints, two teams we very well could see in the playoffs. However, this game will look much different than that potential matchup would.
Since it is still the first week of the preseason, let’s recap what each team did this offseason to see how they stack up.
The Vikings did not make any major splashes in the free-agent market as they did a year ago, landing Kirk Cousins. Instead, they focused on their own players. They extended star WR Adam Thielen to a four-year contract with a max value of $73 million. They also extended fan-favorite TE Kyle Rudolph for four more years, worth $36 million. Anthony Barr was set to hit free agency, and kind of did, initially agreeing with the Jets, but he reneged and re-signed with the Vikings for $67.5 million.
In the first round of the draft, the Vikings beefed up their offensive line, selecting Garrett Bradbury. Then, in the second round, they selected a very intriguing prospect in TE Irv Smith out of Alabama.
The Saints lost star running back Mark Ingram to the Ravens this offseason and replaced him with Latavious Murray. Murray had 578 yards and six touchdowns last season. The Saints also lost tight end Ben Watson due to retirement over the spring and pulled in a nice replacement. Jared Cook signed a two-year deal worth over $10 million after finishing 2018 with 900 yards and six touchdowns. Malcom Brown, Marcus Sherels, and Mario Edwards are some other names the Saints have signed.
The Saints didn’t have a first-round pick this year due to the Marcus Davenport trade last season. They selected OL Erik McCoy in the second round. They picked safeties with their next two picks and finished with only five picks in total.
With this being the first game of the preseason, the starters are only expected to play a couple of series and maybe the first quarter. That means the likes of Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, Stefon Diggs, and Kirk Cousins won’t see much playing time, if any at all. Which means we have to look deeper down the depth chart to try and predict the outcome of this game.
In terms of QBs, Sean Mannion and Teddy Bridgewater will get a good share of snaps as the backup signal callers. The edge there very clearly leans towards the Saints. This is also going to be the first time that Bridgewater faces his former team since signing in New York two years ago. The backup wide receivers are highlighted by Tre’Quan Smith and Keith Kirkwood for the Saints, and La’Quon Treadwell for the Vikings. Edge once again, to the Saints.
In terms of running backs, I’m a tad excited to see what Ameer Abdullah can do in his second season in Minnesota. Seems like a distant memory when he put up 800 total yards and five touchdowns with the Lions.
The Saints are a better offensive team than the Vikings, and playing in New Orleans is always a huge advantage for the Saints. Only giving up three points? I’ll take that. Pick New Orleans -3.
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