The Saints open at home on Thursday night, kicking off their quest to repeat as NFL champions against the Favre-Vikings. The only downside to the NFL season starting is that with Favre in the season opener we will certainly hear more about the legendary Favre and how he just loves the game etc. We may not hear from the broadcasters that Brees's average yardage total for the four seasons he has been in New Orleans (4575) is 161 yards higher than Favre's best season (4413, in 1995, whne he was 26 and Brees was 16).
We can get past the Favre-fest though and enjoy the opener and watch knowing that there is a 62% chance the Saints win with a likely final score of 28 to 18. Yes the vaunted Saints offense will not be slowed at the start of the season as Brees an Co put up big numbers against the over-hyped Vikings defense. The Vikes have a great first down defense, but they struggle on 2nd and 3rd downs while the Saints Offense (projected 2nd overall coming into the season) is dominant in all offensive situations. They run well and pass even better. Consider that they have the 10th best projected yards per rush on 1st and 10, and 6th best projected yards per pass. The rankings get better as they move to second and third down scenarios.
On the other side of the ball, the Vikings do not maximize their assets very well as they have the 10th best projected yards per pass on first and 10, but only throw it 44% of the time. Yes Peterson is a great back, but on first and 10 they are projected to be 13th in the league in rushing. In yardage terms, the Vikings get 2.5 more yards per play when they pass on 1st and 10, but they still choose to run more often than not. By giving up those yards on 1st down, the Vikes will be playing into the strength of the Saints defense which is their 3rd down packages. They move from an average at best defense on first and second down to a top 10 defense on 3rd down.
So while the great Favrernator may exhibit is legendary love for the game Thursday night, it will be Brees and the defending champion Saints loving the victory.
Saints: 28, Vikings 18, Confidence level: 62%