Vikings Week 9 Preview: Must Win For Team/Coach

Andy SmithCorrespondent IOctober 30, 2008

  On Sunday the Vikings(3-4) will host the Houston Texans(3-4), a high powered offense led by quarterback Matt Schaub, and star wide receiver Andre Johnson hoping to either improve their record or fall further behind in their division. The Minnesota Vikings are coming off their bye week knowing all to well that this game is a must-win for them and a chance to stay alive in the playoff race. The Vikings last lost before the bye was to division rival Chicago Bears in a shootout that had same results as the Vikings lost 48-41. Since then Jerrad Allen has been fined for his rough play, Defensive line-men Pat Williams and Kevin Williams have been caught using water reduction pills by the NFL, and most of Minnesota STILL wants coach Brad Childress fired no matter what the record.

  So where to begin? How about the trouble with Pat Williams and Kevin Williams. Both were accused this past week of using water reduction pills to lose weight faster. However under current NFL player rules that is a banned substance such like steroids. So as for now they will play Sunday but will be suspended up to 4 games for using league banned substances. This of course does not help a Vikings defense that has been plagued by injuries and suspensions including Bryant McKinnie earlier in the season. The Vikings also lost E.J. Henderson for the season after he suffered several fractured toes in a win against the New Orleans Saints. The only promising notes have been the comebacks of Napolean Harris and Dontarrious Thomas who hope to bring the defense back to full strength. Another plus will be the comeback of Safety Madieu Williams who hasn't played a single game yet this season due to a neck injury but is poised to make his first start at home. The Vikings  going to need it as they are not what they were last year as they are ranked 19th in the league in points allowed at 23.9 and are 20th in passing as they have given up an average of 219.4 yards a game. Something the Vikings ar not too proud of including Darren Sharper who has zero interceptions this year and is very frustrated about that. Saying that when he does get that first one he is going to "do a celebration dance for five minutes minutes because it's been too long". Another problem the Vikings defense will be facing is Houston Texan wide receiver Andre Johnson who has been playing spectacular these past 4 weeks. Covering him will be Corner back Antoine Winfeild who knows it will be nothing other then a "Tall task". The Texans Receiver has been hot as of lately leading the league in receptions (56) and yards (772) not to mention he also has pulled in 2 touchdowns. So Johnson could be the key player in this game.

On the offensive side of the ball the Vikings hope to possibly rack up more points like they did in Chicago but hope the opponents score will be alot lower this time. The Vikings continue to go with veteran quarterback Gus Freotte who has 1,286 and 5 touchdowns on the season since replacing young Tavaris Jackson after week 2. As for Adrian Peterson, he is understanding that he needs to be "more patient" and soon things will start working out. Vikings fans hope to see alot of him this weekend as they go up against a strong defense who has not been fairly well against the run. Giving up 119.6 yards a game they are ranked 21st in the NFL. Bernard Berrian will also need to be a factor if the Vikings hope to win at home Sunday. He was quiet at the beginning of the season but now has had three 100 yard games in a row. With 517 yards and 3 touchdowns on the year, Berrian is finally becoming the receiver they hoped for.This doesn't mean though that the offense has nothing to fear. Houston Texans star defensive end Mario Williams is a strong, fast and aggressive player off the line and can cause a sack or turnover at anytime. Williams already has 7 sacks and 3 forced fumbles as a third year linemen. The Vikings offensive line also has not been up standard but can't not have anything more then a stellar day on Sunday as the Texans will be coming many with formations and blitz packages to hurry Freotte. So Vikings will need to come with their offensive unit in sink and need to play mistake free football for 60 minutes if they expect to win.


  Overall the Vikings are in need of a win Sunday and they go agaisnt a Texans team that is far better then what their record proves. If the Vikings have any chance of winning this game they will need strong running from star runningback Adrian Peterson, and for Gus Freotte to just control th clock and the game. If an oppertunity becomes available to make a big play to one of the many recievers on the team. Another factor in a Vikings win this weekend will be decided by the strong defense and wether or not if they can pressure Matt Schaub and keep him from getting in rythm with Andre Johnson. CB Antione Winfeild must step up in this game and keep Johnson from making any big plays. This is a win the Vikings need and there coach aslo needs if he intends to keep his job at Minnesota, as the fans are already disaproving of his game style and play calling. If Vikings want to stay in the hunt for the playoffs they will need to come out ready to go.


  ***Prediction Vikings-24 Texans-17


   Andy Smith-NFC North