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Open Thread, Vikings @ Chiefs

Minnesota Vikings at Kansas City Chiefs
Arrowhead Stadium
Kansas City, Missouri

  1st 2nd 3rd 4th+OT F
Vikings 7 3 0 0 10
Chiefs 0 3 3 7 13
Minnesota Stat Kansas City
131 ypg (10th) Rush Offense 71 ypg (27th)
176.5 ypg (25th) Pass Offense 179 ypg (24th)
307.5 ypg (22nd) Total Offense 250 ypg (28th)
20.5 ppg (12th) Scoring Offense 6.5 ppg (31st)
76 ypg (6th) Rush Defense 108 ypg (15th)
264 ypg (25th) Pass Defense 169 ypg (6th)
340 ypg (20th) Total Defense 277 ypg (7th)
11.5 ppg (3rd) Scoring Defense 20.0 ppg (18th)

The words "must win game" get bandied about in a lot of situations in the National Football League.  It's a rare occurrence when one of those situations occurs in the third week of the regular season.  But make no mistake, folks. . .this is a must-win game for the Minnesota Vikings.

The Chiefs have the sort of offense that's made to make the Vikings' defense look good.  They like to run between the tackles, they have a pretty immobile quarterback, and they don't have a whole lot going on at wide receiver.  I know it sounds like I'm describing the Vikings there, but the Chiefs are built in a virtually identical manner.  The difference being that while Adrian Peterson hasn't had a whole lot of problems finding running room when he HAS been given the football (4.3 ypc on 39 carries), Kansas City's star RB Larry Johnson really hasn't put up the kind of performance that he's accustomed to.  He's said this week that he wants to get the ball 40 times this week.  With the Vikings' rush defense, I think that would be quite welcome.

If the Vikings do succeed in shutting Johnson down. . .and there's nothing to indicate that they shouldn't. . .it doesn't appear that the Chiefs have the ability to make the Vikings pay like the Lions did in last week's game.  Eddie Kennison will not play today because of an injury, and the best receiver on the Kansas City roster after him is the guy that has the Chiefs' only touchdown this season, rookie Dwayne Bowe.  Bowe has said that today people are going to get a glimpse of the "D. Bowe Show."  I have a feeling that D. Bowe is going to get a formal introduction to A. Winfield, and probably D. Sharper as well.

When Minnesota has the ball, hopefully we're going to be treated to a heavy dose of Adrian Peterson and a returning Chester Taylor.  Last week, the Chiefs gave up 101 yards to Chicago's Cedric Benson.  If a useless schlub like Benson can hit the century mark against the Kansas City defense, there's no reason to think that the Vikings can't rush for significantly more.  As of the time I'm typing this, there's still no word as to who the Vikings are starting at quarterback, but my guess is that it will be Kelly Holcomb.  If that's the case, the Vikings should be able to avoid the big turnover (unlike the disaster they put together against Detroit) and control the ball by pounding the weak interior of the Kansas City defense.

The Chiefs' pass defense will be bolstered by the return of DE Jared Allen, who returns this week after a two-game suspension.  It will be imperative that the Vikings' offensive line keep him (and the rest of the Kansas City defense) away from the quarterback today.  I expect a lot of the passes the Vikings will throw today will be of the short, quick variety.  The Chiefs do have a fine cornerback tandem in Ty Law and Patrick Surtain, so you can expect to see a lot of passes to slot guys, running backs, and tight ends while Law and Surtain are patrolling the outside.

All in all, if the Vikings just do what they should have done last week. . .pound the ball, control the clock, and contain the run. . .there's no reason to think that they can't win this must-win football game.

Gonzo's Final Score Prediction:  Vikings 17, Chiefs 14

Channel 705 on your DirecTV dial, or whatever local channel is carrying the game in your area, folks.