|MINNESOTA VIKINGS (0-0)||GAME 1||SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (0-0)|
|Date:||11 Sep 2011 ||Location:||San Diego, CA |
|Time:||3:15 PM Central ||Stadium:||Qualcomm Stadium |
DirecTV Ch. 713
|Know Thy Enemy:||Bolts From The Blue|
|Gonzo's Prediction:||Chargers 27, Vikings 24|
Yeah, I'm predicting a loss. . .that doesn't happen often. However, the Vikings CAN win today, and if they want to do so, there are a few keys to getting it done.
1) Get pressure with the front four - This would appear to be a pretty tall order with Kevin Williams serving the first half of his two-game suspension for the StarCaps mess, but Jared Allen and company are going to have to get after Philip Rivers this afternoon. The Vikings are going to need to have as many people available back in coverage as possible to account for the likes of Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd, and Antonio Gates. The Chargers' starting left tackle, Marcus McNeill, has been hobbled a bit this pre-season with a knee issue, and if Allen can show up as the guy we saw in the second half of 2010 rather than the first half, he could make things difficult for Rivers this afternoon. Brian Robison, Christian Ballard, and everyone else that will rotate in on the Minnesota defensive line will have to get after it as well.
2) Slow the game down - The Chargers finished atop the NFL in total defense in 2010, but they're more susceptible to the run than they are to the pass. This should play into the hands of the new-look Minnesota offense, who will bring the NFL's best running back to town against the team that he set the single-game rushing record against the last time these two teams played. While it would be ridiculous to expect a repeat performance of that from Peterson, if the Vikings can get him going early, it will slow down San Diego's pass rush and open things up for Kyle Rudolph, Visanthe Shiancoe, and Percy Harvin underneath, as well as the play-action game that Donovan McNabb excels at.
3) Win the turnover battle - The 2010 Vikings were one of the NFL's worst teams when it came to taking care of the football, and that was with Adrian Peterson correcting his fumbling issue. McNabb has one of the lowest interception rates in the history of the NFL, with just 2.2% of his career throws being picked off. Yes, last year in Washington, that number "ballooned" to 3.2%, which sounds bad. . .until you realize that the 2010 Vikings had an interception percentage of 5.1%, which is pretty ridiculous. This isn't McNabb's first rodeo, and he should be a steadying influence on this offense compared to what the team went through last season. If the Vikings can hold on to the ball and force a turnover or two from the Chargers, they can pull the upset.
Today marks a very sobering day for each and every one of us, as we all had to bear witness to the terrorist attacks of September 11 ten years ago today. And on this day, I am honored and proud that we all have a place where we can gather and freely discuss Vikings' football with our brethren, one that allows us to celebrate, commiserate, and express whatever other feelings we might have about our favorite football team.
Unfortunately, I will be joining you in the comments section only, as yours truly will actually be attending this game in sunny southern California. Since I won't be attending in an official capacity, all I will have with me is my phone, but I will be commenting and trying to keep up as best I can from the stadium. I may require a sherpa and two mountain goats to reach my seat, but I'll be there cheering on our Beloved Purple in person. Ted and Eric and the usual cast of thousands will be here with you, however, so you'll still have to be on your best behavior. There will be a new Game Thread established for each quarter, so be sure to keep track of where everyone is at.
Ladies and gentlemen. . .it's football time.