San Francisco 49ers: Where Game vs. Minnesota Vikings Will Be Won
The San Francisco 49ers have solidified themselves as the best team in football, at least thus far.
A 2-0 mark against two 2011 playoff teams will give you that title, but the 49ers face a much different team this week in the Minnesota Vikings.
This is a Vikings team that is searching for its identity.
The Vikings will now face a much tougher opponent in the 49ers, who have shown to be a complete football team.
Though the odds are against Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday, the game still has to be played on the field.
My prediction? 49ers win 20-13. A little too close? Maybe, but this will not be a cakewalk for the 49ers.
Here are some of the things to watch for in the Vikings-49ers matchup this Sunday.
Adrian Peterson vs. 49ers Front 7
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Adrian Peterson will face a stout 49ers defensive front. I've said this many times before, but it has to be reiterated: the 49ers boast the best defensive line in football.
The consensus is that the 49ers possess the best defense in football, and the reason lies in the front seven. Guys like Justin Smith and Aldon Smith get all the publicity, but fans tend to forget the impact of Ray McDonald or Ahmad Brooks.
How many know about Isaac Sopoaga?
This is a deep front seven that does everything. They can stop the run and get to the quarterback.
Peterson has provided a heartwarming story with all the injury issues he's had to cope with but the train may end here.
If Peterson has success against the 49ers, the Vikings may keep this game close. Remember, Peterson's success will then open the offense for Christian Ponder, who's had a solid start to the regular season.
Special Teams Battle
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The 49ers have one of the best special teams unit in football. Can the same be said for the Minnesota Vikings?
Percy Harvin is always a threat as a kick returner, and if the Vikings plan to stay in this game, they must get contributions from this unit.
In addition, Vikings punter Chris Kluwe must have a big game. Despite the stigma about Alex Smith and the "limited" 49ers offense, this is a unit that could do some damage, especially on the ground.
If the 49ers have a short field, look for them to score early and often. The key to success against the 49ers is limiting their scoring opportunities early on.
The 49ers love to keep leads, and making them play catchup doesn't fall in line with their identity.
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This is a revamped 49ers passing attack, led by a more confident and accurate Alex Smith.
The 49ers should feast on a young and unproven Vikings secondary. Smith should flourish against a pass defense that made Andrew Luck look like a veteran.
As much as the 49ers love to run the ball, they're ability to use play action is just as important. If the 49ers are struggling to run the ball, look for Alex Smith to throw the ball far too often.
While I believe Smith has improved, Jim Harbaugh and co. prefer him to not chuck it up 40-plus times. Not to say Smith would fall under the pressure, but it takes the 49ers away from their identity.
Their game plan allows for no mistakes, and no matter how much Alex Smith has transformed, the odds that he throws a pick or two tremendously increase with 40-plus pass attempts.
If the Vikings can force a turnover or two, especially early on, this will be a close affair in the Metrodome.