After a break to take Peter King to task, it’s time to look at the five key match ups for the Vikings on the defensive side of the ball. I would say these are more important than the offensive match ups, because this team has to win games with its defense. The Vikings are not going to win a shootout anytime in the foreseeable future, that’s for sure.
- Shaun Alexander v. His Foot
At this point, we can probably safely say that Alexander is not going to be playing on Sunday. This is what I like to call a “good thing”. I don’t care how explosive Maurice Morris is supposed to be—he’s not going to win the MVP award any time soon, or set the record for most touchdowns in a season. Big Pat, Napoleon Harris and the rest of the defense can handle him, just like they’ve handled every other running game. Don’t look now, but the Vikings have the fourth best rush defense in the NFL. Shocking, isn't it?
- Darrell Jackson and Co. v. Antoine Winfield and Co.
This match up is what is going to decide the game. The Vikings secondary has been good, but not great, which might not be enough on Sunday. They’re only allowing 201 yards a game through the air, but a lot of that is a product of the teams they’ve faced. The only offense they’ve seen run by a good quarterback (Jake Delhomme) was missing its best receiver. And there was the
- Kenechi Udeze and Ray Edwards v. Walter Jones
One way the Vikings can mitigate the Seahawks' advantage over their secondary is by getting to the quarterback. I can’t say I’m optimistic about their chances, considering that Walter Jones might be the best left tackle in the NFL. Udeze has been something of a bust this year, while Edwards has played well when he’s on the field, but somehow, I doubt either of them have any success against Jones.
- Matt Hasselbeck v. Poor Decisions
Matt Hasselbeck has already thrown seven picks this year, only two less then he threw all of last year. And they all came in three games: two against
- Mike Tomlin v. Mike Holmgren
Holmgren has been running his offense successfully for years. He’s the oldest remaining coach on the West Coast Coach family tree and he knows what he’s doing. But he’s not such an offensive genius that he can’t be stopped by a defense executing a great scheme, like, say, the Cover 2 (see Bears v. Seahawks in Week 4). If Tomlin can create a game plan that works as well as Ron Rivera's did, the Vikings are going to have a great chance to win. If Holmgren learned his lessons and made the necessary adjustments, well, it's going to get ugly.