Defensive end Jared Allen returns home to face Kansas City as Minnesota looks for its first win of 2011.
The Vikings have outscored their opponents 54-7 in the first half while they have been outscored 60-3 after halftime.
The Kansas City Chiefs on the other hand have been outscored in both halves of football (61-10 in the first half, 52-10 in the second half).
When the game clock strikes zero, the Vikings will have their first win of the season while the Chiefs will continue in their current tailspin. Here are 10 reasons why:
Leslie Frazier's first three games as Minnesota's official head coach have left Minnesota 0-3 with three blown halftime leads.
It was amazing that coach Leslie Frazier’s team lost two straight games after having a 10 point lead at halftime. But when it happened for a third time, everyone knew something wasn’t right.
Frazier and his staff need to get their acts together.
The offense needs to maintain its steady dose of Adrian Peterson and the running game in the second half. Donovan McNabb is not Brett Favre of 2009. He cannot win the game by passing the ball. Give the ball to Peterson.
If the offense gets its act together in the second half then the defense will improve. The defense dominates the first halves of games when it doesn’t have to spring back onto the field every five minutes.
When the offense eats up time on the clock and then punts the defense is OK. That’s because it’s been fully rested. In the second half it never gets a chance to rest so it never is at its best.
Kansas City will be without Jamaal Charles for the rest of 2011 as he recovers from a torn ACL.
The Chiefs running game took a massive hit when running back Jamaal Charles, a 1,400 yard rusher in 2010, was lost for the year with a torn ACL.
It’s not like the Chiefs’ cupboard is bare (Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster). But the talent level isn’t as great as what’s there with Charles.
Charles was the No. 1 option in the Kansas City offense and without him it’s not the same. Matt Cassel hasn’t been an impressive quarterback to date (seven turnovers through the first three games), which makes Dwyane Bowe a less effective receiver.
It bodes well for Minnesota in Week 4.
Running back Adrian Peterson has 296 yards and three touchdowns through three 2011 games.
Minnesota has the best RUNNING back in the NFL: Adrian Peterson. He’s got three touchdowns and 296 yards rushing through the first three games of the season.
Peterson hasn’t lost a step and can carry an offense all by himself—when given the opportunity to do so.
The Chiefs rank 28th against the run (123 yards per game) which should equate to a big day for Peterson and the rest of the Minnesota backfield—especially considering it was the Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions and San Diego Chargers who the Chiefs have played. No team that the Chiefs have played has a running back in the same stratosphere as Peterson.
Tight ends Visanthe Shiancoe and Kyle Rudolph have combined for 90 yards and a touchdown on eight catches through three 2011 games.
It’s been difficult to watch the Minnesota passing game the first three weeks of the season. Quarterback Donovan McNabb through for a pitiful two yards in the second half of Minnesota’s Week 1 24-17 loss to the San Diego Chargers.
While things have improved, the passing game is still weak. It needs improvements.
One way to do that is to improve the talent level of the receivers available for McNabb to throw to. Other than Percy Harvin, and maybe Michael Jenkins, no one in Minnesota’s receiving core is worth much.
Tight ends Visanthe Shiancoe and Kyle Rudolph are better passing options than any other wide receiver not named Harvin or Jenkins—an argument could be had for Shiancoe over Jenkins.
Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave told everyone he wanted to show many two tight end sets throughout the year…and everyone’s still waiting.
Shiancoe and Rudolph have combined for one touchdown and 90 yards receiving on eight catches. The pair has been targeted only 15 times in three games.
It’s time for a change. Make it happen Musgrave.
Defensive tackle Kevin Williams didn't make a large impact on the stat sheet but his presence was still felt.
Defensive tackle Kevin Williams is a Pro Bowl caliber player and a nine-year veteran. The guy has talent and has experience.
In Week 3, Williams’ 2011 debut after serving a two game suspension for using a banned substance, the impact was immediate. He didn’t fill up the stat box (two tackles, one tackle for loss and one quarterback hit), but his impact was felt elsewhere.
Williams’ return forced offensive lines to put more focus into the middle, allowing defensive ends Jared Allen and Brian Robison to combine for five sacks—Allen had three which puts him tied for second in the league in that category with 4.5.
This week, look for Williams to play even better as he gets back into the flow of the defense. His improved play will make the whole defense better off, which will make Minnesota more likely to win.
There’s been much talk about the lack of carries for running back Adrian Peterson in the second half of games. And it is very warranted.
Peterson is Minnesota’s best offensive weapon. No ifs, ands or buts about it. Period.
Against the Detroit Lions he tore up the opposition for 73 yards on 12 carries (6.08 yards per carry) and a touchdown. In the second half he was given five carries.
Five carries for the best running back and your best offensive weapon is unacceptable. Coach Leslie Frazier said this week that he would be more mindful of Peterson and seek to give him more carries in the second half this week.
Defensive end Brian Robison (96) combined with defensive end Jared Allen for five sacks in Week 3.
It was exciting to watch Minnesota’s defensive line wreak havoc on Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford and the rest of the Detroit offense. It brought back memories of 2009 when the Vikings led the NFL with 48 sacks.
The defensive line is a talented group when everyone is healthy and eligible to play. Defensive end Brian Robison has the potential to be a solid pass rusher in the NFL and displayed that with his two sacks.
Jared Allen has been one of the best defensive ends in the NFL for the past few seasons and is on pace to maintain that status this year as he has 4.5 sacks through the first three games.
Defensive tackles Remi Ayodele and Kevin Williams can clog the middle while Williams can also throw in the occasional sack. If the Vikings do nothing else this season, their defensive line should be fun to watch.
Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel has seven turnovers through the first three games.
The biggest reason the Kansas City Chiefs are 0-3 is that they cannot hold onto the football. They have 10 turnovers through their first three games. That’s an average of 3.33 turnovers per game. Six of those 10 turnovers came in a 48-3 loss to the Detroit Lions—a team Minnesota nearly beat in Week 3.
The Chiefs cannot hold onto the football: They post a -6 in the turnover battle.
Minnesota isn’t a great team at turning over its opponents, it has three forced turnovers through the first three games of the season. But the Vikings face an opponent that plays like it doesn’t want the football.
The Vikings should have opportunities to turn the Chiefs over and turn those turnovers into points.
Dexter McCluster has 138 yards on 21 rushes (6.6 average) in 2011.
While the Chiefs are without their top rusher from 2010, Jamaal Charles, they still have a successful running game. It’s what they rely upon to be successful.
Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster are a talented rushing duo. Jones provides the power while McCluster provides the speed and flash. McCluster is more of a wide receiver but he can still do damage as a running back. In 21 rushes he’s gained 138 yards (6.6 yards per rush average).
But that’s what the Minnesota defense has been known for: It stops the running game of its opposition. It’s been in the top 10 for rushing defense since 2006. It ranks as the fourth best through three 2011 games (allowing an average of 67.3 yards per game).
If Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel continues to play the way he has then the Vikings will win because they can stop Kansas City’s run game.
Cornerback Antoine Winfield (26) is ninth in the NFL in tackles (28) but is on the 29th ranked pass defense (299.3 yards per game).
The Minnesota Vikings’ pass defense has been a major Achilles heel early on in 2011. The pass defense ranks 29th against the pass (299.3 yards per game) and has been a catalyst in Minnesota blowing its halftime leads in the first three games of the season.
The beauty of this week’s matchup is that the Kansas City passing game is as bad as the Minnesota pass defense. The Chiefs are the 31st ranked passing offense at 130.7 yards per game.
That’s not to say that the Chiefs won’t pass on the Vikings’ defense, but it’s not what they are known for. They are a running team.
The Chiefs will pass successfully against the Minnesota defense, but with quarterback Matt Cassel struggling it makes it difficult for Pro Bowl receiver Dwayne Bowe to be properly utilized.