NFL Preview: Patriots at Vikings
Losing Pro Bowler Logan Mankins to trade late in the preseason and the juggling of the offense line certainly seemed to hurt the New England Patriots in Week 1. The Minnesota Vikings will attempt to take advantage of that weakness when they host ...
Losing Pro Bowler Logan Mankins to trade late in the preseason and the juggling of the offense line certainly seemed to hurt the New England Patriots in Week 1. The Minnesota Vikings will attempt to take advantage of that weakness when they host the Patriots on Sunday. The Vikings looked like contenders in their season opener with a dominating 34-6 victory over St. Louis behind an efficient performance from quarterback Matt Cassel.
Cassel, who started with New England as Tom Brady's backup before earning a trade and a nice contract by doing strong work in relief, won the Minnesota starting job in the preseason and threw a pair of touchdown passes in Week 1 without a turnover. The Vikings defense had little trouble generating pressure on the quarterback with five sacks and is going up against a Patriots offensive line that shuffled players nearly every series in a 33-20 loss to Miami last week. Brady went 29-for-56 while being sacked four times, and the offense generated only 67 yards in the second half.
TV: 12 noon p.m. CT, CBS. LINE: Patriots -3. O/U: 48.5
ABOUT THE PATRIOTS (0-1): New England's offensive linemen did not feel like the constant rotation up front had any negative effect on the team's play, and the line continued working in different spots during practice this week. "There's definitely chemistry involved, but I think we do a good job here of rotating guys through, building a chemistry with multiple groups, and not just playing five guys in practice and throw somebody else in there (during the games) and it's confusion," Dan Connolly, who played both center and guard in Week 1, told reporters. The Patriots struggled defensively against the run against the Dolphins, surrendering 191 yards on the ground, and are going up against a Minnesota team featuring Adrian Peterson.
ABOUT THE VIKINGS (1-0): First-year Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer earned a win in his first week and is coming off a stint as defensive coordinator in Cincinnati during which he gave Brady and the New England offense fits in the Bengals' 13-6 win last season. Zimmer's new Vikings defense did not give up a TD in Week 1 while forcing two turnovers - one an interception that Harrison Smith returned 81 yards for a touchdown. Peterson was limited to 75 yards with the box stacked against him but new offensive coordinator Norv Turner got around that by using wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson in the running game and keeping Cassel to a series of quick throws.
1. Patriots coach Bill Belichick needs one win to become the sixth NFL coach with 200 regular-season victories in his career.
2. Minnesota CB Xavier Rhodes (groin) and DT Sharrif Floyd (shoulder) sat out practice on Wednesday and are questionable.
3. New England's 39-9-0 record in interconference games is the best in the NFL since 2002.
PREDICTION: Patriots 24, Vikings 17