Week 2 preview: Patriots at Vikings
New England Patriots (0-1) at Minnesota Vikings (1-0) Sunday, 12:00 (noon) p.m. CT, at TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis - TV: FOX *TV announcers: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Jenny Dell *Keys to the game: Minnesota's five sacks at St. Louis are no aberration.
New England Patriots (0-1) at Minnesota Vikings (1-0)
Sunday, 12:00 (noon) p.m. CT, at TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis - TV: FOX
*TV announcers: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Jenny Dell
*Keys to the game: Minnesota's five sacks at St. Louis are no aberration. Coach Mike Zimmer will keep the pressure on Tom Brady, who was sacked four times last week, the 10th time in 17 games he was sacked three or more times. Expect New England to slow the pace and simplify primary reads for Brady to raise the confidence of the collective offense before reverting to the no-huddle ways that led to the Patriots running more plays per game than any team in the NFL last season.
Minnesota's team speed is not special and the Rams kept everything in front of them in Week 1 -- playmaker Cordarrelle Patterson, who had a 67-yard touchdown run last week, had the only play over 18 yards. The Patriots will counter with smothering CB Darrelle Revis, who admittedly had an average effort in his New England debut last week.
*Matchup to watch -- Patriots LB Jerod Mayo vs. Vikings RB Adrian Peterson: Mayo had 12 tackles last week, but the numbers are inflated because of the way his defensive line wilted in the Miami heat. Peterson certainly is capable of gashing defenses all by himself. But the Patriots also have to be concerned with stopping Patterson as a runner. He had 102 yards on just three carries last week.
*Player spotlight - Vikings DE Everson Griffen: A chess piece Zimmer will move from side to side to exploit favorable matchups, Griffen nabbed a $42.5 million deal in the offseason because of his pass-rush skills and showed them at St. Louis. He has 4.5 sacks in his last three games. Given New England's protection problems, Brady will ID Griffen pre-snap.
*Fast facts: The Patriots last began a season 0-2 in 2001, when Brady replaced Drew Bledsoe as starter in a Week 2 loss to the New York Jets. ... Minnesota traded four picks to the Patriots to move into position to draft Patterson 29th in the 2013 draft.
WHO WILL WIN AND WHY
Bill Belichick doesn't lose back-to-back games. The Patriots have the personnel to stuff the run and expose former employee Matt Cassel to make Belichick the sixth coach in NFL history with 200 career wins.
*Our pick: Patriots 23-15