I had little luck predicting what the Vikings would do on Sundays based on what I thought the Vikings should do, so I stopped trying. But I ain’t got Brad Childress to kick around anymore so I’ll try my hand with Leslie Frazier at the helm.
Can the Vikings take advantage of the Bills weak run defense, which ranks last in the league?
You’d think that was a stupid question.
After all, the Bills will be playing former Viking Spencer Johnson at defensive end in place of Dwan Edwards, who was placed on the injured reserve list. Johnson himself is fresh off rehabilitating a hamstring issue, so it’s possible he’ll rotate with rookie Alex Carrington.
Nose tackle Kyle Williams‘ conditioning better be up to snuff because the Bills may also be without his backup, Torell Troup, who is suffering from a leg injury.
Outside linebacker Reggie Torbor has also been placed on injured reserve and cornerback Terrence McGee has been ruled out with a knee injury.
The Bills will have rookies Arthur Moats and Antonio Coleman and sophomore Aaron Maybin share outside linebacker duties while linebacker Akin Ayodele and safety Bryan Scott will fill Torbor’s role.
The Bills are calling in the reserves by activating veteran defensive lineman John McCargo, who has been inactive for every game this season.
So you’d think, given all that, there’s no question the Vikes can exploit this soft run D.
You might think that until you consider that Adrian Peterson is coming off a pretty bad ankle sprain that even if it doesn’t prevent him from playing, may limit his role significantly.
No problem, you say, we’ve got The Toby Gerhart in our back pocket, all 76 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown of him.
True dat but we also have Ryan Cook starting at right guard and, if Steve Hutchinson can’t play with his broken thumb, rookie Chris DeGeare will have to fill in at left guard. And we’ve always got John Sullivan‘s delicate calf to keep an eye on.
Before you jump to the conclusion that offensive linemen are tough, especially Hutchinson, so he’ll likely play, keep in mind that it is Hutch’s thumb that is broken. The thumb is a crucial digit in helping you to control defensive linemen.
Finally, we won’t really know what our receiving corps will look like until Sunday. Percy Harvin is questionable with migraines, Greg Lewis is also questionable with a concussion; both Bernard Berrian and Sidney Rice are probable but one is fragile and the other has been a non-factor since coming back from his hip surgery.
The receivers play a very active role blocking in the running game for the Vikings offense. And the two probable receivers play on the outside, so they’re role as blockers is more likely to be on the outside, further away from the Bills’ soft middle where the Vikings should attack.
EATING THE CLOCK
Given that the Vikings secondary has been, um, under-performing at best this year, I’d think they would want to run the ball a lot for the primary purpose of dominating the time of possession.
Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has been a major reason the Bills are as respectable as a 2-9 team can be; win or lose, nearly all of their games have been close and three of their losses have come in overtime.
Fitzpatrick is a mobile quarterback, averaging 6.5 yards a carry. He’s got a nice long ball that could be dangerous against the likes of Asher Allen and Madieu Williams, if he’s targeting Steve Johnson…assuming he can hang onto the ball.
Fitzpatrick is most efficient, however, where the Vikings are not: The Bills are converting on 40.4% of their third down tries with Fitzpatrick at the helm, according to the Star Tribune‘s Mark Craig.
Fitzpatrick himself is completing 64% of his third-down passes, including seven touchdowns and two picks for a 107.7 passer rating.
FAVRE IS DONE
Didja notice that all the major news outlets ran with that headline or variations on the theme, Favre Is Done?
Your natural reaction to that headline was that Brett Favre, Vikings quarterback, has decided to retire….NOW, mid-season.
That was by design. That was intended to compel you to click.