Week 1 NFL Spotlight: 6 Keys to a Minnesota Vikings Victory over San Diego
While many odds makers and NFL "experts" are picking the Chargers to dispatch the Vikings, the Vikings have other plans for their season opener.
Here are some key points for the Vikings to address to help ensure a victory in San Diego.
Protecting Donovan McNabb
McNabb to Berrian for 49 yards
It's a simple concept regardless of the team or the Quarterback.
The Vikings must give Donovan McNabb time to set, survey and throw his passes to Percy Harvin and Bernard Berrian.
Against the San Diego Chargers defensive front line I wouldn't be concerned, but a blitzing Takeo Spikes could be something to watch.
With the ability to sell the run, look for McNabb to utilize the play action fake, which should make things difficult for the Chargers to handle.
Adrian Peterson Must Carry the Ball 25 Times
Peterson 80 yd run
Adrian Peterson will undoubtedly carry this team on his back, and the team will go as far as he takes them.
With a confident offensive line, Peterson should have plenty of room to rush against the Chargers front three.
Look for some runs to the weak side of the Chargers line and some misdirection to keep the linebackers confused.
Minnesota should feed the ball to A.P at least 25 times this game to ensure a victory.
Antoine Winfield Must Be a Factor
Whether it's against a receiver or blitzing off the corner, Antoine Winfield must be a factor in this game.
The Vikings need to provide a multitude of roles to Winfield and let him get into the head of Chargers' Quarterback Phillip Rivers.
Look for Winfield to battle against Vincent Jackson most of the day, but given the right set of downs and field position, let him loose to do his best against the opposing QB.
If Winfield can be successful in the defensive scheme, it will take pressure from the linebackers and allow them to concentrate on the Chargers' tight end Antonio Gates.
Jared Allen Must Get into the Game
The Minnesota Vikings rely on Jared Allen to carry the defensive line.
Allen must not only find ways to sack Phillip Rivers, but he must clog the throwing lanes for Rivers' check downs.
If you take away the short dumps from San Diego, you force Rivers to take higher risk passes.
Allen is very athletic and can block and pick these types of passes. His presence must be felt on the line of scrimmage.
Visanthe Shiancoe Must Score
He says he's 100 percent ready to go, and if so, the Vikings must look to make him a major factor in this game.
Shiancoe must be able to get open over the middle and keep the Chargers' secondary honest to avoid double coverages against Percy Harvin.
Shiancoe needs to be a primary target in the red zone and on goal line passing downs.
Special Teams Must Be a Factor
Vikings Special Teams
The Vikings special teams must be able to give them good field position by executing special teams assignments efficiently.
If they can give the Vikings an average start around the 35 yard line or better, the Vikings should be able to capitalize on the advantage.
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
The Vikings must rely on the ability to control the clock against an explosive San Diego team.
If they can sustain long drives and ride the back of Adrian Peterson, they can keep the Chargers offense at bey and keep them from developing a rhythm.
The Vikings defense must rise to the occasion and control the point of attack on the line of scrimmage to force Phillip Rivers to have to make throws under pressure.
The Vikings can win this game despite being the underdog.
If the Vikings can optimize the areas I pointed out, they can leave San Diego with their first win of the season.
Vikings 24 - Chargers 21