According to Steve Wyche of NFL Total Access, Vikings' wide receiver Percy Harvin will not only start against the Miami Dolphins tomorrow afternoon, but will play a "major role" in Minnesota's game plan. Harvin, if you'll recall, was held out of Thursday's practice and was limited on Friday with a hip injury, but it appears that the coaching staff may have just been exercising extra caution with a player they can ill afford to lose.
Wyche further explained that Harvin will be used "out wide," "in the slot," and "as a running back" against Miami. With Sidney Rice still incognito until Minnesota's seventh game, Harvin is one of many Vikings that's going to need to step up in order to get the Minnesota offense back on track. For such a declaration to be made by the Vikings shows that they feel as though they can exploit Harvin's special abilities in order to create mismatches against a good Dolphin defense.
With the 3-4 style of defense that the Dolphins play, it isn't crazy to think that such mismatch opportunities might be available. Their outside linebackers, Cameron Wake and Koa Misi, are good pass rushers, but are a bit suspect in coverage. In addition, the Dolphins, much like the Vikings, aren't particularly strong at the safety position. If the Vikings can use Harvin in the slot and out of the backfield, they should have a sizable advantage that they can exploit. I'd expect to see a lot of Harvin tomorrow afternoon. . .not as much as I expect to see of Adrian Peterson, but #12 will probably be getting the ball quite a bit in a varying number of ways.
The Vikings seem to be the popular pick to win tomorrow, and with the home field advantage that the Metrodome has given them over the years. . .including a 9-0 mark at home last season. . .and the Dolphins' offense also struggling a bit, one can understand why. That being said, this definitely isn't a game that the Vikings can take likely, and I don't think that they will. I also expect that the Vikings will have taken advantage of the extra practice they've gotten, not having played since 9 September. Hopefully this will equate to better timing between Brett Favre and all of his receivers, which they'll need to balance the healthy dose of Adrian Peterson they should be dishing out.
I think the Vikings will win tomorrow, but I wouldn't expect a blowout by any stretch of the imagination. If the Vikings can find a bit of rhythm offensively, it's going to put pressure on young Chad Henne to lead the Dolphins back, and he'll have to overcome the noise of the Metrodome as well as the Minnesota pass rush. If the Vikings can get out quickly, you'd have to think the advantage would go to Minnesota in that situation.
If there's any further Vikings news between now and tomorrow morning, we will certainly have it here for you. For now, continue enjoying your Saturday, folks. . .the Twins have already won to reduce their magic number to six, and the Gophers aren't completely humiliating themselves against USC (yet). Could be a pretty good day for Minnesota sports.