Vikings-Saints Preview

There's unlikely to be much of a divide in New Orleans on whether Adrian Peterson should play in Week 3.

Whether the Saints can stop anyone else, though, is certainly up for debate.

The winless Saints will try to make the most of the Minnesota Vikings star running back's continued absence in Sunday's home opener at the Superdome, where they haven't lost since 2012.

After initial plans pointed to him rejoining the Vikings (1-1), Peterson has been placed on the exempt-commissioner's permission list. This means he is off the active roster while he deals with his legal affairs, which center around allegedly injuring his 4-year-old son by spanking him with a wooden switch earlier this year. The team would not put a timeframe on when Peterson might be back.

The move bodes well for a New Orleans defense that is surrendering an average of 446.0 yards and has lost two games on late field goals.

After getting carved up for 568 yards in Week 1 at Atlanta, New Orleans (0-2) looked improved for parts of last Sunday's 26-24 loss in Cleveland but folded in crunch time. The Browns marched 85 yards for a game-winning field goal in the closing seconds.

Two losses by a total of five points hasn't softened the blow.

"Honestly, a loss is a loss. I don't care what the points are," safety Kenny Vaccaro said. "As a secondary I feel like we played terribly these last two weeks and it doesn't feel like (the losses) have been by a combined five points, I'll tell you that."

Five teams have started 0-3 and gone on to make the playoffs with the last coming in 1998, so New Orleans' season is already nearing the point of being on the line.

New Orleans started 0-4 in 2012, but that was without coach Sean Payton as he served a season-long suspension for the infamous bounty scandal. In eight seasons under Payton, New Orleans lost its first two games one other time - an 0-4 start in 2007 - which stands as Payton's only loss in a home opener.

Last season's season-opening win led to an 8-0 home record, a current winning streak that might be more relevant to Sunday's outcome than their winless start. The Saints have averaged 35.1 points in their last 10 home games. Minnesota has reached that level once in 38 road games, including the playoffs.

Drew Brees' 354.4 yards per game, 9.12 yards per attempt, 73.6 percent completion rate and 126.3 quarterback rating in eight home contests last season led all quarterbacks who played more than four home games. His 27 touchdowns matched MVP Peyton Manning for the league lead.

Brees was limited to 237 yards with two scores and an interception in Cleveland.

"It's frustrating because we expect to win," Brees said. "You can point to one play in each of these games. We're one play in each game from being 2-0 instead of 0-2. That hurts."

His connection with Jimmy Graham didn't suffer. The tight end had 10 catches for 118 yards and two TDs.

Minnesota would welcome such numbers after what Matt Cassel showed in Sunday's 30-7 home loss to New England. Cassel was 19 of 36 for 202 yards with a TD and surpassed Brees' entire 2013 home total with four interceptions. Brees had three.

It didn't prompt coach Mike Zimmer to give in to the crowd's chants for rookie Teddy Bridgewater.

"I'm going to hold the quarterback position just like every position here to the same standard, and I also said I wasn't going to have a quick hook," Zimmer said. "Matt needs to play better. It's pretty obvious he needs to play better."

Fall-back starting running back Matt Asiata didn't do much on the ground in his first start, gaining 36 yards on 13 carries, though he caught five passes for 48 yards and a TD.

The Vikings trailed by 17 at half, so the running game took a backseat. The team went on to net 89 yards, 53 of which came on penalties, after halftime and didn't progress past their own 34-yard line until their final possession.

Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson's response was troubling, given the direction the team has chosen to move with its star since the loss.

"We all felt off," Patterson said. "I think it was because 28 wasn't there."

The Saints will also reportedly be without a running back as Mark Ingram is expected to miss time with a broken hand.

New Orleans has won the last three meetings, including the NFC championship after the 2009 season. In the last regular-season matchup in 2011, Brees threw for 412 yards and five TDs in a 42-20 road victory.

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