NFL Gridiron Gab Week Eight Preview: Minnesota at New England

By Columnist Chris Willson

This Sunday the pats will face the Minnesota Vikings and former teammate Randy Moss. The fact that Brett Favre and his ankle are overshadowing Randy Moss’s return to Foxboro, well, isn’t exactly surprising.

Let’s start with a couple key points for the pats offense this week. The biggest thing will be giving Brady time in the pocket to survey the field. Last week, the pat O-line played poorly and gave up 4 sacks. They won’t be getting any breathers this week, as one of the league’s best pass rushers in Jared Allen comes to town.

The Vikings D is pretty much middle of the road right now in terms of rankings in the league (11th in rush defense, 13th in pass defense). Look for Green-Ellis and Woodhead to split carries again this week, with each getting about 5-10.

I think the pats will move the ball pretty frequently in the air in this one. The Vikings play a similar cover-2 defense to the pats, and historically Brady has torn this kind of defense up. Back in 2006 when the two teams met, Brady threw for 372 yards and 4 TD’s. I think Branch will come away with a strong game after a relatively quiet week in San Diego. Look for Tom Brady to operate out of the shotgun and in the hurry up this week, as they had success with that in the second half last week.

The Pats defense will have their hands full with Randy Moss and Percy Harvin this week. Since Moss was traded to the Vikings, Percy Harvin seems to have benefitted the most (183 yards and 2 TD’s over the last 3 games). This mirrors the effect that Moss had on Wes Welker here in New England.

Shutting down Percy Harvin will be one of the biggest matchup this game. So far this season, Johnathan Wilhite has been the slot DB, so he will most likely be on the field when Harvin is lined up in the slot. I would like to see Darius Butler on the field a bit more than he has been in this game, as I think his athleticism seems a good fit for a slot DB. No guarantees on that matchup though.

Jerod Mayo continued playing at a high level last week, and is on pace for a 200 tackle season. The Pats shut down the run early last week, and will need to do so against Adrian Peterson this week. Brandon Spikes will likely be on the field more this week as he continues his strong play against the run.

A couple of finishing notes to monitor leading up to the game.

Patrick Chung exited last week with a knee injury, but he was back on practice Thursday and should be good to go this week. Phew.

Matthew Slater also practiced this week, and he should be back on special team this week.

The Pats will be wearing throwback jerseys in this game

Could I really write this blog without mentioning the fact that the cheerleaders will be all dressed up in their sexy costumes this week?

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