Sep 7, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) yells out from the line of scrimmage against the Miami Dolphins during the second half at Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins won 33-20. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
The Expatriated Patriots Fan: Views and News from Outside New England
Pre-Snap Read: Vikings
Here are my thoughts going into the New England at Minnesota game.
Injuries and Inactive list is not large, but impact-full.
Patriots. Linebacker Jamie Collins, center Ryan Wendell and defensive end Michael Buchanan are all out for the game. Jamie Collins absence means the Patriots have just four linebackers available for the game: Mayo, Hightower, Chris White and Deontae Skinner. Skinner was just signed of the practice squad. If they continue with the 3-4 front they used in Miami, either all four will have to play all base defensive snaps, or they will have to get creative with personnel. Last week, Wendell was insert on some series, and starting center Connolly was shifted to right guard to replace struggling Jordon Devey. Likely that will end this game, unless the Patriots choose to play rookie Bryan Stork, which seems unlikely due to Belichick’s recent comments that Stork still had more to learn. Buchanan was out last game at Miami.
Vikings. Unless you have been living under a rock the last day and a half, you are probably aware that the Vikings have deactivated Adrian Peterson for the game due to his indictment on child abuse charges stemming from injuries inflicted while disciplining his 4 year old son with a switch. With Peterson out, will start at running back and likely the Patriots defensive focus will shift. While before we were probably looking at a lot of 8 man fronts and taking our chances with Matt Cassel, now we may see more focus on emerging star receiver Cordarelle Patterson, who may see a healthy dose of Revis this game.
The Vikings Coach is Mike Zimmer, who held the Pats to 6 points in a loss last year as the Bengals’ defensive coordinator.
His success last year, his sneak peak at the Patriots’ offensive line problems last week, and a reasonably talented Minnesota defensive front could mean a challenging game for Brady and company. They will need to establish more of a running game that last week in order to keep the Viking’s defense from teeing off on Brady. Everson Griffen had two sacks last week and bookend defensive end Robison had 83 pressures last season. Last week the Vike’s allowed only 6 points, although that was against St Louis, which is down to its third string QB.
The Patriots have to stop the run.
Yeah, Peterson is out, but the running game starts with the offensive line, and the Vikings still have the same line. While Matt Asiata won’t deliver the same performance as AP, Moreno gashed the Pats for about 5 yards a carry last week, and allowing anything approaching that number this week will allow the Vikings to control time of possession, and likely the game.
Special Teams have to improve.
Cordarelle Patterson is a talented returner. The Patriots were awful in all phases of special teams last week, allowing to many return yards, putting up a number of short kicks, and allowing a block that translated into an easy touchdown. If New England both allows a good run game and doesn’t improve on special teams, they will lose the field position battle, and it could be a long day.
I think it will be tight, but I have to go with a homer pick here, and say the Patriots will pull it out.
My guess: Patriots 23-21