The NFL is off to a strong start in its TV ratings after drawing big numbers last season.

Thursday's Vikings-Saints opener earned the highest preliminary rating for a regular-season, prime-time game in 13 years. NBC said Friday that New Orleans' 14-9 win in a rematch of the NFC championship drew a 17.7 overnight rating and 28 share.

That's the best in prime time in the regular season since the Broncos-49ers game in 1997. It's by far the highest rating for a Thursday night opener since the NFL started such games in 2002. The previous best was a 14.5/23 for Jets-Redskins in 2003.

The rating was up 28 percent from the 13.8/23 for last year's Titans-Steelers opener, which went to overtime.

The game drew a 60.0/78 in New Orleans and 43.8/64 in Minneapolis. Packers fans are clearly still following Brett Favre closely: The rating was 33.3/52 in Milwaukee.

Ratings represent the percentage of all homes with televisions tuned into a program. Shares represent the percentage of all homes with TVs in use at the time. Overnight ratings measure the country's largest markets.