NFL preseason 2013, Week 3: What to watch in Saints-Texans, Vikings-49ers Sunday

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday of the penultimate week of the NFL preseason features Adrian Peterson's debut and a matchup between two teams that haven't lost yet on their exhibition schedules. Will Peterson bolster Minnesota's offense, and can the Texans handle Sean Payton's offense?

There are only two Sundays left in the year 2013 without regular season NFL games. Today is one of them, but at least there is some imitation product.

Sunday's two games feature four teams that should be contenders: the Saints, now with Sean Payton (again), the Texans, who aren't playing Arian Foster in the preseason but certainly will in the regular season, the 49ers, who made the dang Super Bowl last year, and the Vikings, with Adrian Peterson making his preseason debut.

Here's what to watch for in Sunday's two matchups:

New Orleans Saints vs. Houston Texans, 4 p.m. (FOX)

A matchup of undefeated teams isn't exactly a thrilling storyline at this point in the year, but it is true that neither of these squads have lost yet. And, man, this would be a pretty good regular season game, right?

Even so, as a preseason game, there are things to glean from each squad's performance. Over at Battle Red Blog, they'll be eagerly watching to see how the Texans match up against the Saints' four-wide sets -- not to mention whether or not there's any chance of them being able to cover Jimmy Graham or Darren Sproles, who will also be let loose on offense.

For the Saints bloggers over at Canal Street Chronicles, they'll be watching Pierre Thomas, who has not yet played in the preseason, and hope to find out if Sean Payton is comfortable putting Marques Colston on the field.

Minnesota Vikings vs. San Francisco 49ers, 8 p.m. (NBC)

All eyes will be on AP: Adrian Peterson hasn't played in a preseason game yet this year, and didn't play in any last year as he recovered from reconstructive knee surgery. Without him, the Vikings' offense has looked absolutely abysmal, with just one drive that managed both three plays and 15 yards. We know that Peterson is great, but it'll still be intriguing to see if his mere presence makes them competent offensively, or whether Christian Ponder is still a tad overmatched as he faces an elite secondary featuring Carlos Rogers and Nnamdi Asomugha. And of course, Vikings fans will be watching with baited breath as they worry whether the league's MVP should be playing in a preseason game in the first place.

The 49ers' offense is always fun to watch too, especially as debate rages over whether or not COLIN KAEPERNICK COULD BE THE BEST QUARTERBACK IN THE HISTORY OF FOOTBALL.

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