Time to put the loss to Green Bay in a box and turn the focus to this weekend’s game against the New England Patriots, as the Vikings prepare for their 2nd consecutive road game and their 3rd game away from home in the last 4 weeks. The Vikings last traveled to New England in 2002 and the last time these teams played it was the Patriots who came away with a resounding 31-7 win.
So the Vikings have some demons to exercise as they battled the Patriots on Halloween. They’re off to a disappointing 2-4 start, have an injured starting QB, had a game taken away from them last weekend in Green Bay and face a team that dominated them last time. Sounds like a good time for a win.
It won’t be easy, though, as New England boasts a 5-1 record – tied for the best mark in the NFL – and is also in the midst of a 4-game winning streak. The Patriots have logged consecutive 23-20 wins over the Baltimore Ravens and San Diego Chargers and they’ll be looking for a 5th straight victory before they hit the road for consecutive road games at Cleveland and at Pittsburgh.
The strength of New England’s team is their head coach – Bill Belichick – and QB – Tom Brady. Belichick has won 71% of his games and 3 Super Bowls since signing on as head coach in 2000 and Brady has been the man guiding the offense nearly the whole time. Brady has a career passer rating of 93.5, but this year he’s got that number up to 96.0 thanks to a 66.2% completion rate and a pristine 11-4 TD/INT ratio.
New England’s offense is operating a bit differently than in years past, though, and that’s because of the trade that sent WR Randy Moss to Minnesota just a few weeks ago. The trade leaves Wes Welker as the only WR left from the record-setting 2007 offense, but Welker is certainly nothing to scoff at. He’s coming off seasons in which he’s had 112, 111 and 123 receptions and he’s also coming off an ACL injury from last year. So far this year, Welker has 37 receptions and 3 TDs and he’s the one to keep an eye on out of that WR corps.
Defensively, the Patriots no longer have those familiar names such as Teddy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison or Ty Law. Instead, they have some young up-and-comers such as LB Jerod Mayo, CB Devin McCourty and S Brandon Meriweather. To this point New England has had less than ideal results with these young players. The Patriots are ranked 28th in overall defense and 22nd in scoring defense. But don’t doubt Belichick and his system. This group of players and New England’s scheme has the capability to shut down any offense.
Special teams-wise, the Patriots feature a nice kicker in Stephen Gostkowski, a solid punting game and an outstanding return game that features WR Brandon Tate (31.7-yard kickoff return average with 2 TDs) and WR Julian Edelman (13.2-yard punt return average). In reality, the Vikings special teams versus the Patriots special teams might be the best matchup of the game. I know that’s not a lot of fun for fans to read or watch, but that might be the case.
There are the basics for this week’s matchup with New England. It should be fun to break it down in more detail throughout the week. Be sure to stay tuned here for more updates and analysis. And also stay tuned here to watch Brad Childress and Brett Favre press conferences later in the morning.
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 25 Comments »