The Minnesota Vikings get another rematch with the New Orleans Saints after the NFC Championship loss during the 2009 season. The Vikings and Saints last played in the 2011 season opener, which was also the last time the Vikings played all of the NFC South teams.
2013 Record: 11-5 (second in NFC South)
2013 Offensive Statistics: 25.9 points scored per game, 399.4 total offensive yards per game, 92.1 rushing yards per game, 307.4 passing yards per game, 15 turnovers
2013 Defensive Statistics: 19.0 points allowed per game, 305.7 total offensive yards allowed per game, 111.6 rushing yards allowed per game, 194.1 passing yards allowed per game, 19 turnovers forced, 49 sacks
Head Coach: Sean Payton (seven seasons with New Orleans)
Key Returning Offensive Players: QB Drew Brees, WR Marques Colston, G Jahri Evans, TE Jimmy Graham, G Ben Grubbs, RB Mark Ingram, WR Robert Meachem, WR Joseph Morgan, WR Kenny Stills, OT Zach Strief, RB Pierre Thomas
Key Returning Defensive Players: NT Brodrick Bunkley, OLB Victor Butler, DE Cameron Jordan, CB Keenan Lewis, ILB Kevin Reddick, CB Patrick Robinson, S Kenny Vaccaro
Free Agent Additions: CB Champ Bailey, S Jairus Byrd, DT Brandon Deaderick, C Jonathan Goodwin, FB Erik Lorig
Draft Picks: Round 1, Pick 20 - Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State; Round 2, Pick 58 - Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska; Round 4, Pick 126 - Khairi Fortt, LB, California; Round 5, Pick 167 - Vinnie Sunseri, S, Alabama; Round 5, Pick 169 - Ronald Powell, LB, Florida; Round 6, Pick 202 - Tavon Rooks, OT, Kansas State
Outlook: After a small blip in 2012, the Saints returned to the playoffs. They have a dynamic offense and solid defense.
The Saints ranked second in the NFL in both passing yards and passing yards allowed, but in the bottom half in both rushing yards and rushing yards allowed per game. The Vikings’ revamped secondary and linebacker group will be tested by Drew Brees, Kenny Stills, Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham.
The Saints are expected to be among the NFL’s elite again in 2014. They should extend their streak to five straight seasons under Sean Payton that they made the playoffs. The one season they did not make the postseason was Payton’s year-long suspension stemming from the bounty scandal.
Since Payton took over in 2006, the Saints have made the playoffs five times, including a Super Bowl title in 2009, and finished 8-8 or better in six seasons.