Week 8 – Preview: Vikings at Patriots

Four Downs of Doom and Domination

1st Down:

QB Play.  Whether the name on the back of the jersey reads “Favre” or “Jackson,” a quarterback who takes what is given and protects the ball will be step one in winning this game.  The Vikings are minus 6 in the turnover ratio, much due to the careless QB from Favre.  As the days move along and Favre loses his boot, the prospects of a mobile, strong armed quarterback seems less and less.  Fans may be clamoring for TJack, but Brett has too much pride to not make every effort to get to game 292.  If Taravaris plays, look for more running, play-action passes, bootlegs, and more importantly quick, simple passes.  If Favre starts, look to see if the offensive line is up to the task of protecting a standing duck in the pocket.

2nd Down:

Pressure from the D-Line.  The Minnesota defensive line has six sacks in six games.  Sacks do not tell the whole story, as we have occasionally gotten pressure in the form of hurries and hits on the opposing QB.  But occasional pressure is not enough.  Last year the Vikings led the NFL in sacks.  This year opposing teams are single blocking Jared Allen, something that was unheard of in the past.  Opponents are also max protecting when needed allowing a comfortable pocket where QBs like Aaron Rodgers strive in.  Tom Brady is too wise to expect many sacks against, but pressures may just do.

3rd Down:

Early lead.  The Vikings have played without an early lead in nearly every game.  The result is abandoning running game and nearly no pass rush.  However, with a lead you can let AP loose and the D-Line can pin their ears back.  Brad Childress used to be able to count on at least three points on his opening drives, especially last year.  A smart, well-scripted first drive that results in points could be what the Vikings need to get their mojo rolling in Sunday’s game.

4th Down:

Win the close game… and on the road.  The Minnesota Vikings have been outscored by 5 total points this year, and only 22 in four losses (or an average loss of 5.5 points).  Every single loss has been capped by an unsuccessful attempt at winning or tying the game in the final minutes.  I do not expect a game against a top-3 team such as New England to be any different.  Can Favre snap out of his funk and lead a game winning drive?  Can AP carry the Vikings to a victory?  Can the defense hold on a final drive lead by Tom Brady?  And finally, the Vikings are 0-3 on the road this year.  Last year they were a .500 team away from the friendly confines (4-4), and with a loss Sunday the Vikings would equal last years total, and exceed their total losses from last year with five.  Gillette Stadium is not an easy place to break that streak, but you have to try.

Hail Mary:

I’m going to remain silent on predictions because they are always wrong.  Expect a close game regardless of who starts at QB for the Vikings.  Unfortunately my money would have to ride on Tom Brady and his massive amount of man hair for the win.  I would love to be proved wrong.

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