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Final Thoughts: Vikings Look to Build Momentum and Fanbase in London

The Minnesota Vikings are going from one thrilling adventure at home to another one halfway around the world.

Fresh off a 28-24 comeback victory against the Detroit Lions in Week 3, the Vikings (2-1) will look to build momentum against the New Orleans Saints (1-2) at 8:30 a.m. (CT) Sunday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.

The Saints have lost two consecutive games after opening the season with a narrow 27-26 victory against Atlanta.

Minnesota Head Coach Kevin O'Connell said his team needs to avoid a slow start, no matter what side of the ball the Vikings are on.

"It's really about whatever phase starts the game for us, we want that group to start fast," O'Connell said. "If it's defense, let's get a stop and try to get in the best possible field position that we can. If it's offense, let's sustain a drive, like we did really well, going back to the opener, and try to at least, schematically, apply pressure."

O'Connell added a fast start in turn will lead to building momentum.

View photos of Vikings players on travel day as they leave Minnesota to take on the Saints in London on Oct. 2.

"It's just about momentum — who can capture it and more importantly, sustain it," O'Connell said. "It's competitive against everybody with [how] our league is set up. So, you're going to have to overcome some adversity. … We obviously want to be as complete and consistent as possible to avoid some of those lapses, but sometimes you've got to give the defense credit, make some adjustments and go try to win the game in the end."

While the neutral site game is in place of Minnesota visiting New Orleans this season, O'Connell said he expects a strong showing by Vikings fans. O'Connell added while it's his first time going to London, he knows how important this trip is for the team and growing the fanbase.

"I know our ownership and our organization, we feel very strongly about continuing to build our great fanbase. I've already felt it early on and we haven't been here long," O'Connell said. "Our organization, in my opinion, does a great job, whether we're back home or abroad here. It's really important to us. I think our players love being on this new field with passionate Vikings fans and people who are really all over the world, is something we're really excited about."

Here's what Sam Thiel, Lindsey Young and Craig Peters of will be watching for in Sunday's game:

Can Justin Jefferson bounce back against Saints CB Marshon Lattimore? | By Sam Thiel

Justin Jefferson's towering goal of reaching 2,000 yards this season looked well within reach early, especially after torching the Green Bay Packers secondary for a career-high 184 yards on nine receptions and two touchdowns in Week 1.

Since then, the third-year wide receiver has been limited the past two games for the Vikings. Against the Philadelphia Eagles and cornerback Darius Slay in Week 2, Jefferson was held to 48 yards on six catches. Last Sunday, Jefferson recorded three receptions for a career-low 14 yards against the Detroit Lions and cornerback Jeffrey Okudah. The Eagles and Lions incorporated double and even triple teams at times in their coverage plan.

As the Vikings prepare for their game against the New Orleans Saints this Sunday in London, Jefferson gets ready to face four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Marshon Lattimore.

Jefferson said he's going to embrace the challenge of facing Lattimore.

"I always like the competition, I always like the battles," Jefferson said. "So just going into the game, playing a team that's my hometown team, I'm definitely excited to play them. I'm pretty sure it's going to be a great battle."

View photos of Vikings players from practice on Sept. 30 in London, England.

Jefferson added while it's frustrating facing double and triple team coverage in the moment, he knows it's allowing his teammates to take advantage.

"You want to be a big part in the game. You want to play a role in the game. Of course you want to score the touchdowns, get all of these different yards, but when they do come with a double team, triple teams, it opens up for a lot of other people," Jefferson said. "It's frustrating at the time, but once everybody else is eating and we're winning the game, then it really doesn't matter."

Vikings prepped for multiple Saints QBs | By Lindsey Young

As the Vikings approach Sunday's game, it's looking like they might face Andy Dalton in place of an injured starter for the third season in a row.

Saints QB Jameis Winston was listed Friday as doubtful because of back and ankle injuries.

Dalton could step in against Minnesota after leading Dallas to a victory over the Vikings in 2020 while in place of Dak Prescott. He tried to replicate the feat in last season's finale in place of Justin Fields, but Minnesota prevailed over Chicago.

New Orleans also has tight end Taysom Hill, whom the Saints previously had take snaps at quarterback against Minnesota.

Vikings Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell said Thursday the team was preparing for multiple situations.

"We have plenty of tape on both of them," Donatell said. "Just kind of take [Dalton's] last place [in Chicago] and Dallas, see what relates to the passing game they have and kind of estimate how they'll come out."

Donatell was asked about Winston's streakiness within games that has run hot and cold this season.

"That's kind of his thing. You don't know when he's going to be on and when he's going to be off," Doantell said. "That's kind of been the story. He gets on, and they fall behind a little bit. It allows him to loosen up a little bit, and people loosen up a little bit and he gets rolling. Every game is different when it gets into the second half, and this team, you better play them until the end."

As for whether or not Hill might be in the mix?

"We're not preparing for him to start. We think it will be one of those other two guys, but we're always prepared for him to be mixed in there," Donatell said. "That's usually the formula that's worked out pretty good for him."

Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson emphasized not getting too hung up on which quarterback will start but rather staying focused on what Minnesota's defense can control.

"In my time in the league, you never want to have anything like that distract you," Peterson said. "You want to continue to prepare [as if the starter] was playing, because teams try to use that to have you take your foot off the gas."

3rd phase trying to be special again | By Craig Peters

Matt Daniels wants his group to play as special as the grass surface at Tottenham Stadium is revered.

To be clear, the Vikings and Saints won't be on the pitch. That playing surface will be mobilized beneath the Tottenham Hotspur stands, leaving a synthetic turf for the football game.

"[Kicker] Greg [Joseph] was saying only the groundskeepers and players are actually allowed to be on the grass, so I guess it's a sacred, special type of grass over there," Daniels said Thursday before he and the team departed for London. "It's not as soft as the turf we have over here. It's a little bit harder and not as thick, so we'll have to adjust just a little bit."

The Vikings first-year special teams coordinator has an early track record of his groups making marks in games.

Minnesota's Patrick Peterson blocked a field goal at Philadelphia. Although it wasn't enough to sway that game, the Lions missed twice on field goals and also didn't punt with the success they had coming into the game.

Asked if the aftereffects of Peterson's block helped against Detroit, Daniels said, "I would say so because P2 was still really applying some good pressure off the edge there. We got some really good interior rush, so everything from a special teams operations standpoint, when those things start getting sped up, it really throws off the complete operation."

Daniels noted the Vikings applied pressure to Lions punter Jack Fox on a snap that didn't count because of a delay-of-game penalty. After that, Fox was less effective.

"On the two following punts, a [41-yarder and a 39-yarder], he ended up netting [38] and his average wound up being [44.7] for the game, so just the ability to apply that pressure really throws off the time clock of the operation where things start to get sped up and guys get out of their rhythm," Daniels said.