Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Matchups That Will Decide the Game

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.

  1. 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?

  1. 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 Buffalo game, where the Bills’ wide outs were so open it seemed like the Vikings were playing a man down in coverage on every play. As Pacifist pointed out on Monday, the Seahawks have a definite advantage here, with four competent receivers (Jackson, Deion Branch, Bobby Engram and Nate Burleson), and a good quarterback. The Vikings don’t really have the personnel to match up, especially when you consider Fred Smoot's play has fallen a long way since the days when he covered the third of the world not covered by water.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 Arizona, three against the Giants and two against Chicago. If he tries to force a pass or three into tight coverage, the Vikings MUST come away with the ball. And if they do, they need to think end zone, because as we all know, the offense sure isn’t going to score a touchdown no matter how close to the goal line they start.

  1. 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.


cheswick said...

Tbird, I think it's gonna get ugly. Hasselbeck was throwing pretty well in the second half against the Rams so I think it's safe to say he's going to cause trouble. Some of his earlier games weren't great efforts on his part but I think he's back into form.

It hurts me to say so but I think Seattle is going to hammer the Vikes. I just can't see the Viking secondary keeping up in this game.

If Minnesota had someone, anyone, who could play QB, they'd have a great chance throwing against Trufant. But we know BJ's grandma could throw farther downfield than he can, so prepare yourself.

TBird41 said...

Sadly, I think you're probably right. I want to be an optimist, but I see the Seahawks being the first team to put up more than 17 points on the Vikings, and I doubt the Vikings' offense is going to be able to match it.