<span style="">One week from tonight the New Orleans Saints will host the [Minnesota Vikings](http://www.vikings.com/) in an important NFC inter-conference showdown at the Superdome.
The Saints, who yesterday evened their record at 2-2 with an emphatic 31-17 victory over the visiting San Francisco 49ers, will be facing an angry and shocked Vikings squad that is sitting at 1-3 in the NFL North standings and alone in third place. Minnesota's lone victory, which came last week at home against the Carolina Panthers, was vintage Vikings football, as they defeated NFC South foe Carolina, 20-10, in a hard-hitting affair at the Metrodome. The Vikings, a team many predicted would wrest control of their division this season away from the Green Bay Packers, are searching for consistency in a few categories, but present an extremely formidable task for a Saints team that has displayed flashes of inconstancy at times early this season, as well.
The Vikings, similar to the Saints, lost two of their contests this season by less than a touchdown. In week one of the season they traveled to Green Bay and dropped the opener for both team, 24-19, in a Monday Night game at Lambeau Field. The Vikings then returned home to face the Indianapolis Colts and let a late lead slip to Payton Manning and the Colts and fell 18-15. On Sunday in Tennessee the Vikings fell to the Titans, 30-17 by uncharacteristically turning the football over three times and giving the Titans excellent field position at crucial junctures in the game.
It was between games two and three that the Vikings made a quarterback switch, removing season-opening starter Tarvaris Jackson and replacing him with long-time NFL veteran Gus Frerotte. The former Tulsa star has played for the Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions, Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins and St. Louis Rams throughout his 15-year career and is also now in his second stint with the Vikings. Frerotte said after the game in his post-game press conference that the Vikings are now focused on one thing, and one thing only.
"We're going to come right back to work and get ready for the Saints," Frerotte said. "I'm disappointed. I'm (upset). I want to go win, and I know we have the team to do that.
"We've just got to play better," he said. "We're going to another noisy place next week on Monday night; it's going to be crazy. We got to get our stuff together and come back and play well."
Even the most casual football fan knows that the Vikings are led by the sensational skills of second-year running back Adrian Peterson, who seemingly took the NFL by storm in his rookie season and has not suffered a sophomore jinx thus far in 2008. Peterson is averaging 5.1 yards per carry thus far this season and is averaging 21 carries a game and a neat 105 yards per contest on the ground. Peterson suffered a hamstring injury two weeks ago against the Colts, but hasn't missed any playing time the last two weeks and has remained the go-to man in the Vikings backfield, although a very capable replacement in the form of former Baltimore Ravens RB Chester Taylor (71 yards on 20 carries) waits in the wings.
Minnesota could also be buoyed by the return to the lineup of starting left tackle Bryant McKinnie, who was forced to the sidelines for the first four games of the season due to an NFL sanctioned suspension for off-the-field conduct violations. He will most likely replace Artis Hicks in the starting lineup. "We turned the ball over, and we had penalties, against a good, solid team," Vikings left tackle Artis Hicks said of the undefeated Titans. "I mean, that makes it almost impossible to win."
"The reality is, we're 1-3," Hicks said. "We can only get better, and we've got to get better, and we've got to get better fast."
Said defensive end Jared Allen, "We've got 12 games left, but there has to be a sense of urgency."
Among the items that most likely will be addressed in the Twin Cities this week were the five penalties, including three early in the third quarter that set up long-yardage situations for the Vikings, as well as three fumbles, including one on a routine snap.
"Those things just can't happen," Frerotte said." If we want to be a good team and be the team that we think we are — that we know we are — then we have to come out and have better poise and play a lot better."
Did You Know? For the second time in the three weeks Eastern Illinois University will have two alums on the opposing sidelines. Saints Head Coach Sean Payton (1987) and Vikings Coach Brad Childress (1978) both graduated from EIU. Last week it was Payton and Denver Head Coach Mike Shanahan that shared the same distinction. "I don't know if we can go so far as to call it the second coming of the Cradle of Coaches," quipped Payton.
Tomorrow on NewOrleansSaints.com an in-depth look at this week's opponent, the Minnesota Vikings, as well as a spotlight on the Saints' charity work and more!