Can Vikes chase Brees around ...and get his pants
on the ground?
Well fans, this was one of those games that goes into the memory bank – no matter what happens, we’ll always have Dallas, 1/17/10. But it didn’t start out that way, as the Cowboys seemed able to move the ball at will against the Purple defense, the short passing game eating up big chunks of yardage while Felix Jones seemed good for at least five yards per carry. Fortunately, Minnesota’s A pass rush showed up and the Cowboys defense was never able to sustain anything.
That will be key to the Vikes success down in the Big Easy, where Drew Brees’ offense has racked up a league-leading 31.9 points per game, slightly better than 29.4 by Favre and his pals. The only way the Vikes can slow down that passing attack will be to get an effective pass rush on Brees starting early, keeping him off the field while their offense carves up the Saints defense, 26th against the pass, 21st against the run.
It is too bad that the Purple couldn’t manage just one more win in the regular season and thus home field advantage in this game, because crowd noise could be a crucial advantage. Versus Dallas, the Vikes pass rush harassed Tony Romo so thoroughly that his down field passing attack was virtually eliminated. An earsplitting din forces the visiting offense to watch the center snap rather than listen to the QB’s cadence, giving the pass rush half a step’s advantage. We saw what that was worth last Sunday, and the Saints pass rushers will have that edge at the Super Dome, not the Vikes.
On the bright side, the Saints play indoors on turf, which suits the speedy Minnesota offense far better than grass in the cold and wind. They may not be able to hear the snap count, but at least they won’t be slipping and sliding like beginning ice skaters. This game favors the Vikings if it doesn’t turn into a shootout. If they avoid getting into a hole early or, better yet, take the lead, the crowd quiets down and a lot of the home field advantage goes away.
History favors the Vikes on Sunday, as they have always done well against the Saints in New Orleans. Some will remember the year that a Jerry Burns team went down there and blew out a highly favored bunch of Saints, and then went out to San Francisco to repeat the feat. They came a last second dropped pass on the goal line by Disco Darrin Nelson from beating the Redskins and going to the Super Bowl. And don’t forget last year’s 30-27 Monday night victory in the Super Dome, despite Reggie Bush scoring twice on punt returns.
Of course, it could be said that history is just a bunch of damn coincidences. A coin flip is always 50-50, no matter how many times in a row heads has come up. (Is that philosophy or math?) What would really give the Vikes an edge in this game is if Ray Edwards could play full-speed, now that the Minnesota pass rush has figured out how to deal with double-teams on Jared Allen and Kevin Williams. The Vikes will win this game if they can chase Drew Brees around and get his pants on the ground.