October 11th, 2010
I have to admit that until recently, I didn’t have a great feeling about the Vikings chances in their Monday night game at the Jets tonight. They have not done many great things offensively in the first few weeks of the young NFL season to show that they can go into the Meadowlands and beat a very good Jets team with a very good defense.
Their embattled quarterback, Brett Favre, has not clicked with his receivers like he did in 2009, which can happen when a team loses its number one option, like Sidney Rice. No other wide receiver has stepped up, made consistent separation with the defensive back, and showed that he could carry the position for a few weeks. Bernard Berrian should have been this guy, but he has not proved up to the task through three games.
This all changed last week with the arrival of receiver Randy Moss from the Patriots. The Vikings, again, have a number one receiver that Favre can rely on throughout the game. Moss is a receiver that a defense has to pay close attention to and, on most plays, devote two-to-three guys to his side of the field. Even more importantly, it should open up lanes for Adrian Peterson and the Vikings very good running game.
AP has been running very well so far through three weeks, running as though he knew the offense was a little off while not at full strength. I thought the Vikings went away from the run in the 2nd half of the Saints game in week one, but their commitment in weeks two and three proved that the line and Peterson are up to the task in carrying the offense. The Jets defense is stout, meaning the Vikings passing game has to be a factor tonight, so Favre, Moss, Harvin, Shiancoe, etc. have to be on the same page in order for the Vikings offense to stay on the field, put some nice drives together, and score touchdowns, not field goals.
But are four practices and some classroom time enough to make the difference and turn the season around against a Jets team who has Super Bowl visions once again. Favre and Moss are hall of fame players who have been around, played in some big games, and been on teams where they needed to get to know new teammates pretty quickly. But never have they needed to become one in less than a week. They will.
It’s Monday night, and we know that both Favre and Moss have had some of their biggest moments of their careers in primetime on Monday Night Football. They are both under pressure for different reasons this week, so they’ll need all their focus to be in the right place, in the game, blocking out the viciousness the Jets’ fans are sure to bring, in order for the Vikings to come out on top and improve their record to 2-2.
The Jets are playing very well. However, when they traveled to Miami a couple weeks ago, the Dolphins, not known for their offensive prowess, moved the ball up and down the field against the Jets’ defense. Chad Henne threw for 364 yards and two touchdowns, and the Dolphins controlled the ball for most of the game. The Jets ended up winning, due to a great performance from their quarterback Mark Sanchez and an interception in their red zone with under a minute left to seal the game. But they weren’t an unstoppable force, like they have been at times the last year or so.
If the Jets play defense like they did in Miami, the Vikings will score more than 23 points and win this game. On the other side, the Vikings defense has played very well, too, holding the Saints, Dolphins and Lions to 14, 14, and 10 points respectively (really, the defense has only given up three touchdowns, as the Vikings offense has two turnovers inside their five yard line, giving their oppponets 14 points).
The Jets can take control of a tough AFC East with a win, but this game means more to the Vikings. Expected top teams in the NFC have fallen (Saints, Cowboys & Packers), so a Vikings’ win puts them back in the NFC North race and keeps them in a decent place in the NFC. It won’t be easy, but I think the Vikings will win.
Vikings 27, Jets 23.
This prediction totally goes against what I’ve been telling people the last few days. I know as recently as Saturday, I picked the Jets 23-20. But I need the Vikings to win, otherwise I need to change my Twitter avatar to a very bearded Braylan Edwards. If the Vikings can somehow win, however, my Twitter friend, @TheFirstD, has to change his avatar to a very bearded Randy Moss.