"We didn't have an identity yet", Brees said, explaining that the team was just coming together then, when they started 0-2 with lopsided losses at Minnesota and home against the New England Patriots (which don't look almost as bad in retrospect).
The Saints passing game was also a work in progress in the opening matchup.
"We just have to come out and play our game, regardless of who's mad at who for whatever reason", wide receiver Jarius Wright said.
Minnesota's offensive line has been much better, but the Vikings were vulnerable down the stretch: Keenum took 13 of his 22 sacks in the final four games. Rookie safety Marcus Williams hadn't been upgraded to heat-seeking missile. His son, Adam Zimmer, was an assistant linebackers coach for New Orleans that year.
The Vikings have a 2-1 playoff series edge over New Orleans, winning a wild-card game in 1987 and a divisional game in 2000. The Vikings also ranked first in the National Football League on third down, limiting opponents to an anemic 25.25 percent conversion rate, by far the best in the National Football League and a bad sign for a Saints offense that has struggled on third down all year. With Cook down due to a torn ACL, the Vikings combined McKinnon and power back Latavius Murray to build the NFL's 7th-ranked rushing offense, but those numbers are inflated because Minnesota played with the lead so many times. It was his last full tilt of the season. "I don't expect to see the same team that we saw Week 1, and I know they don't expect to see the same team they saw in Week 1, too".
"That was the first time we had a young defense that was still learning", said Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan, who had a monster game Sunday that followed up a monster regular season that earned him a first-team All-Pro nod himself.
For both teams, really. They meet Sunday in Minneapolis the same squads that squared off in Week 1, but playing wholly different.