Game Preview: Patriots Seek First Win Against Peterson-Less Vikings


Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Week 2: New England Patriots @ Minnesota Vikings

Location: TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Time: 1:00 p.m.

TV/Radio: CBS/98.5 The Sports Hub

The New England Patriots will look to avenge their season-opening loss last week in Miami against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday afternoon at TCF Bank Stadium. Things took a dramatic turn in favor of the Patriots on Friday as Vikings stud running back Adrian Peterson was booked on a child abuse charge. He will not play in the contest and the Patriots will certainly benefit from that. Nonetheless, Bill Belichck’s squad will need to improve in several different areas if they hope to avoid their second-consecutive defeat.

Tom Brady and the offense will once again be tested by a stout defensive front. The Vikings have a slew of guys who can pressure the quarterback. Their defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is quite familiar with scheming against Brady. Last season, coaching the Bengals defense, Zimmer dialed up an attack that limited the Patriots to just three points.

Everson Griffen and Brian Robison will rush off the end for the Vikings. Griffin had two sacks last week. The Patriots offensive front will need to step up their game if they hope to avoid a repeat of last week when Brady was sacked four times and hit countless times over. Big Sharif Floyd holds down the middle of the line. Anthony Barr and Chad Greenway cover well at the linebacker spots. Harrison Smith is a ballhawking safety who must be accounted for. Captain Munnerlyn is a high-energy corner who cannot be overlooked.

The perfect counter-attack for tenacious pass rushing team is a balanced offense. The Patriots shied away from the run last week, taking it to the ground on just 15 attempts. They’ll need to work in the run to keep Zimmer’s defense honest. If not, the Vikings will load up and test an uncertain Patriots offensive line.

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Aaron Dobson will make his 2014 season debut in the tilt. He should provide Brady with a vertical passing threat. The Patriots lacked an outside receiver presence against Miami. Danny Amendola and Brandon LaFell couldn’t seem to get it done. Dobson brings big-play ability with solid size along the sideline. Rob Gronkowski is also listed as probable to play, an upgrade over last week’s questionable designation. Expect him to be more involved offensively.

Knowshon Moreno torched the Patriots run defense in the opener. Fortunately, the defenders don’t have to worry about stopping Peterson. With him out of the lineup, backup Matt Asiata will see the bulk of the load in the run game for the Vikings. But Asiata is not a cause for concern, it’s burner Cordarelle Patterson who needs to be kept in check. Patterson can beat defenders through the air and on the ground. Darrelle Revis will shadow him for the most part. Tight end Kyle Rudolph is a consistent vertical threat. Matt Cassell will look to feed him when matched up in coverage opposite a linebacker.

If the Patriots allow Brady more time to read through his progressions, he’ll surely lead the team to victory. Look for Stevan Ridley to have a breakout game in an effort to alleviate some of the pressure on Brady. On the flip-side of the ball, the defensive line has to generate consistent pressure and force Cassell to make quick decisions. He’ll find his playmakers if given ample opportunity.

My prediction: Patriots 24, Vikings 16