Minnesota vs. New England
There’s a number of unfavourable matchups for the Vikings in this one.
Tom Brady vs. The Vikings secondary. Vince Wilfork vs. John Sullivan. Bill Belichick vs. Brad Childress. Brett Favre vs. himself.
But the matchup that really worries me is the Vikings vs. Gillette Stadium.
Of course, Gillette Stadium can’t throw passes to Wes Welker or tackle Adrian Peterson, but that doesn’t change the fact that when the Vikings play away from the Metrodome, they usually lose.
The Vikings have lost their last seven road games. They haven’t won one in almost a year, when they beat Packers at Lambeau on November 1st, 2009. And I'm not optimistic the Vikings streak is going to end this Sunday.
But what would really help the Vikings in having a chance to do so is getting off to a fast start for once this season.
They've been mostly brutal offensively in the first half of games in 2010, averaging just under eight points per game. Against the Jets and Miami they failed to score a single point in the first half.
That's not nearly good enough when you're playing the slate of tough teams the Vikings have been facing.
They've been remarkably consistent in this aspect. They get behind early, not by a whole bunch, but with Favre playing so poorly, the Vikings haven't been able to overcome the deficits.
I even did some math tonight (I hate math) to see just how often the Vikings have played from behind in their first six games.
It turns out that of the 360 minutes of football the Vikings have played, they've trailed for 189 minutes and 35 seconds of them – 53 percent of the time.
I was actually surprised that percentage wasn't higher, because it seems like the Vikings are always playing from behind.
Still, 53 percent is probably extremely high for a team as talented as the Vikes are supposed to be.
So I would think that playing on the road, against a 5-1 Patriots team, and with their confidence probably not the highest, the Vikings had better get off to a good start against New England.
The problem is, I don't think the Vikings have it in them, because the template this season has been as follows:
The offence sputters, and the Vikings get down by three-to-seven points by half time. They play better in the second half and hang around, keeping the game close. They get one last shot late in the game to tie or win the game. The announcers start talking about another heroic comeback led by Favre. The Vikings fall short.
What I do hope to see on Sunday is that the Vikings buy into all this back against the wall bullshit and play real loose.
I'd like to see them try some things. A couple of crazy trick plays. A fake punt. An onside kick. Whatever. Surprise the Patriots a bit.
And hey, Cleveland beat New Orleans on the road last week, so there's hope, right?
Well, maybe not.
Patriots 27 – Vikings 21