Minnesota Vikings vs. Washington Redskins Preview

Things seem to be falling the ‘ way today. beat the and, playing for home-field advantage (and this time of year, playing at Lambeau is a decided advantage), the had their ass handed to them by the .

With a win tonight, the Vikings will clinch a playoff berth.

But the scare me.

They are ninth against the run, so it’s going to be a tough game tonight. They will probably not have to put eight or nine men in the box to stop the run, which means it will be more difficult for to make them pay.

The Vikings offensive line will need to play much better tonight than they did last week, especially . Birk was man-handled by the Bears back-up defensive tackle last week. Despite Washington’s tough run D, the Vikings are going to have to pound the ball often to make the play-action work. And, by the way, there’s always an excellent chance of Adrian Peterson ripping off a long TD run or two. He nearly had two last week.

How bout a dual backfield with both Peterson and Chester Taylor and let the Redskins pick their poison about who they want to stop? I’ve been waiting for this all season and I think today is the day to implement it.

The Redskins are 18th against the pass, so there’s a good chance we’ll see Jackson toss the ball with some frequency but he’ll have to avoid the mistakes he made against the Bears last week. He’ll also be without wide receiver .

This is a game where it will be a huge advantage to get out on top early and then pummel the Skins to demoralize them early. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bevel call a trick play on the fist series.

What scares me the most about Washington, though, is .

First, since he hasn’t started in 10 years, there’s precious little tape of the guy, so the Vikings defense has had one and a half games worth of material with which to prepare for him. Second, Collins has been in the same system for years, so presumably he knows his offense inside and out. Lastly, the Vikings have historically played poorly against backup QBs.

Washington has the 11th ranked rushing offense and despite boasting a dangerous duo of and , but I’m only concerned with them to the degree that they are able to set up a credible play-action.

The Redskins have the 4th worst special teams unit, so could have a big game returning kicks. And that could prove to be the difference in this game.

I expect most of this game will be a fight for field position, tough and close. The single most promising thing that emerged from last week’s game was that the Vikings played badly but still found a way to overcome their poor play and turnovers to win the game. That’s something we haven’t seen in a while.

I don’t know that I buy into the Vikings being the hottest team going into the playoffs, as so many national pundits have proclaimed them to be, but a win tonight will go a long way toward convincing me.

Minnesota Vikings vs. New York Giants Preview

How shall the beat the today? Let me count the ways.

If I had a smidgen of confidence in our offense, I might have hope that the Vikes could pull out a win today. But I don’t. If they want to have any chance at a wild card spot this season, the Vikings need to beat the Giants today. I just do not think they are capable of a victory over a Giants squad whose 7-3 record is far less impressive than it looks.

The Giants wins have come at the expense of such NFL powerhouses as , , the , , the , the and last week against the reeling . Their losses have been against good teams: Twice to the and once to the . And the Green Bay loss was during the second week of the season, when the Pack was not nearly as good as they are now.

If the Giants have proved anything this year, it’s that they can beat bad teams. Lucky for them, they face the Minnesota Vikings today.

The Giants Running Game

Will be nonexistent. With New York down to their third down back, , the Giants will not seriously commit to the run. They will beat the Vikings as everyone does, through the air.

The Giants Passing Game

New York tight end will eat up the Vikings D underneath today. They will take advantage of the Vikings’ Cover 2 deep defenders by challenging Minnesota’s linebackers to cover underneath, of which they haven’t proved capable.

With out, rookie corner will be challenged just as much as his fellow corner, Cedric Griffin. I expect the Giants will pick on Griffin–since everyone seems to do that–by matching him up against the 6’5" . That’s a match-up against which Griffin simply cannot physically succeed.

The Vikings Running Game

The only way the Vikings will have a chance is if they eat up the clock with long, run-dominated drives that end in scores. With apparently warming the bench today, that effort will be much harder. proved he could run for far more than 100 yards last week, but he’s still no Adrian Peterson.

If the Vikings offensive line and receivers run block as they have since the Chicago game, they certainly could execute a time-consuming, run-mostly strategy.

The Vikings "Passing" Game

When the Vikings are in passing situations, the Giants can be counted on to bring maximum pressure on Sidney Ri—um, .

What does it say about Tarvaris Jackson that our first passing play last week was thrown by our wide receiver, ? What does it say about Jackson that our longest pass play from scrimmage this year was thrown by our wide receiver, Sidney Rice? What does it say about Jackson that the first red zone pass by Jackson last week, from the three yard line, resulted in a drive killing interception?

With left tackle matched up against speed rusher and right tackle taking on and still having to account for middle linebacker , Jackson is nearly certain to have a defender all up in his grill on every passing play.

And he has yet to prove he can handle that pressure. What he has proved is that he’s indecisive and there’s no reason to believe he’ll anything other than indecisive as well today. That indecision will result in sacks or interceptions today.

A loss today means the effective end to the Vikings’ 2007 season. Sadly, we’ll be playing for picks from here on out.