Pre-Game Meal: Patriots vs Vikings

Patriots vs Vikings

Not even this guy is scarier than the predicament the Vikings will be in if they can't steal a win on Halloween Sunday.

NEPD Staff Writer: B. Delabarrera

Tomorrow is Halloween in Foxboro, Massachusetts and not too many of its residents are very concerned. From 4:15 PM EST until somewhere around 8:00 PM or so, Foxboro and the rest of Patriot Nation will be eagerly watching as the Minnesota Vikings come to town side by side with our old buddy Randy Moss.

The Vikes are even participating in the holiday festivities; Moss is dressing up as his 20-something-year-old self and Brett Favre as Tavaris Jackson. No matter who the quarterback though, week 8 for the Vikes will be all about keeping themselves afloat in their division again. A loss for the Purple and a win for Detroit would tie the two for last place in the NFC North.

These 2-4 Vikings don’t really strike fear in the hearts of their opponents these days. Tom E. Curran even called these guys the “NFC version of the 2010 Chargers”. But to be honest, after that poor closing against San Diego, the thought of containing a heavy running game featuring Adrian Peterson for 60 minutes is a pretty scary thought.

Percy Harvin has been lighting it up recently as well. It should be up to Tom Brady to elevate his play and force the ominous Brett-varis Jackson and the offense to play catch-up. It going to be hard for the Vikings to run the ball a lot if they are down by a couple of possessions in the second half.

AD vs. Wilfork & Co. – Through 6 games this season, Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson has averaged almost 5 yards per carry for 684 yards with 5 scores. A large part of his success this season can be attributes to his increase in ball security. The man who fumbled 15 times in his 2 previous seasons has not dropped the rock once yet this season.

As always, AD28 runs hard and makes defenses pay on the edges, Big NT Vince Wilfork will need to make his presence apparent very early in this afternoon clash in order to have any shot at keeping Peterson at bay.

DL Mike Wright was able to squeeze in a few limited practices this week and hopefully will get a chance to make an impact as well; the defensive line’s durability has been suspect in his absence.

Given all of the Purple’s quarterback woes this week, expect to see Bill draw up some extra run blitzes to throw at Adrian. If the Patriots can shut down the running game, or at least keep Peterson under his weekly average, they should be able to win; and win big.

Brett-varis Jackson vs. Brad Childress vs. Patriots Secondary – According to Coach Childress, if Brett Favre presents his team with the best chance to win then he will play… Sound familiar? Maybe so, but what should we take that to mean from a coach that isn’t the Hoodie?

I’ll take that to mean that there probably isn’t a shot in hell that Favre can play a whole sixty minutes, especially if the Pats can generate some pressure and some knockdowns. Tavaris Jackson will most likely take over before the half if #4 loses his grip on the game and grow interception-happy. Anything to keep that games-started streak alive, right?

Whatever the case, it’s going to be a hassle for the Vikings to move the chains through the air if their QB situation REALLY is as uncertain as it seems. The Patriots secondary has made leaps in its development every single week; rookie CB Devin McCourty even notched his first career interception against Phillip Rivers last week… and an incredibly athletic INT at that.

Hopefully, the allegedly quick-healing safety Pat Chung will be able to play as well and keep TE Visanthe Shiancoe in his sights at all time because if Jackson does end up playing, I expect Shaincoe to be his “pacifier” (as Chris Collinsworth would say).

The best thing so far for the Vikings in the acquisition of Randy Moss is how open Percy Harvin has been in the past three games. In those three he has racked up 183 receiving yards, 59 rushing yards, and 3 touchdowns both ways. He’s even got what it takes to bring one home on a kickoff. Harvin is a player that can affect both the special teams and offensive phases and it will be vital to hte Patriots’ chances to make sure he doesn’t break one off.

Bill n’ Brady vs. Their Critics – Now is the time for the staples of New England pro football to prove that they knew what they were doing when they traded away Randy Moss for one 2011 draft pick and sixteen Pokemon cards. I mean, Belichick obviously knew that Moss would end up as an adversary a few weeks down the road and must have come to conclusion that it wouldn’t be a big deal at all.

No one knows how Moss works better than the New England Patriots and we’ll see a good amount schemes designed to confuse Brett-varis and contain Randy when the former Patriot is back out wide in Gillette Stadium. Brady was held under 200 passing yards last weekend in San Diego against a top-five passing defense and only managed to find the end zone once. The $72-million-dollar-man should be good for almost double those stats tomorrow against a defense that allows almost 210 passing yards per game and has not been able to help its team win on the road yet this season.

Deion Branch is questionable with a hamstring tweak but is expected to still see the field. While his second game back in a Pats uniform was not nearly as impressive as his first outing,  his timing with Branch has most likely only gotten better with time. The former Super Bowl MVP, if on the field, will bring one in for 6 for the home crowd. Now I need to get something off my chest… Can someone please get Aaron Hernandez a touchdown for Pete’s sake?!

Woody vs. The Middle – Danny Woodhead’s value to New England becomes more and more evident as the season trudges along. One of his biggest assets is his ability to make defenders miss in the open field; his lightning fast cuts and low center of gravity don’t hurt this offense either.

If the Patriots can get the Vikings to play along with some four-WR sets and deep shotgun-formation plays, Woody should be able to slip out of the backfield and into the wide open middle of the field to help Tom Brady accumulate some first downs. If there isn’t a linebacker or someone on the defense within two yards of this kid when he catches the ball, the odds of him renewing the downs lie at about 85% in my book.

Get the ball to Woodhead and make a defender chase him around. Consider this my wild-card for this week’s PGM.

Another important nugget to pay attention to will be how much time recently signed safety, Sergio Brown (FROM? Notre Dame!). Last week Brown made a huge 4th down play on SD tight end Antonio Gates and ultimately put the Patriots in a position to win.

Depending on Chung’s capabilities Sunday, Sergio Brown may be integrated more deeply into the defensive game plan. He would most likely inherit most of the Shiancoe duties if that is the case too. Look out for Brown to make his name a little more familiar in Northeast America.

Will the Minnesota Vikings snag their first road win at the expense of the team who blessed them with Randy Moss’ talents?

31-20 PATS

-B.DelaBarrera

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