Vikings vs. Texans: Five Big Questions
By Dan Zinski
Dec 16, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans running back Arian Foster (23) rushes against the Indianapolis Colts during the fourth quarter at Reliant Stadium. The Texans won 29-17. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports
Biggest game of the year. Five biggest questions of the year…
1. Is this the week Adrian Peterson gets stopped?
I thought last week would be the week. Then he dropped another two bills and change on the Rams. And that’s a pretty decent defense. Houston’s defense is supposed to be a different animal. They’ve only gotten gashed a few times and it was by passing teams. They’re good against the run. And the Vikings as we know are totally one-dimensional. One of these weeks that has to catch up to them. Right? Probably. Then again I don’t know. Sometimes an athlete just gets in a place where it doesn’t matter what anyone does to stop him. No one can stop him. Peterson might be unstoppable. So he’ll get his yards. But that won’t necessarily translate into a win of course. And the win is what’s supposed to matter. Not some record.
2. Will Christian Ponder convert enough of his cute little third downs?
Ponder did okay last week against the Rams. He did his job. He protected the ball and he converted some third downs. Most important, he seemed fairly decisive out there. He didn’t seem quite as discombobulated as some other weeks. And he showed a little physical presence on that touchdown run. That was a good play for him. If he can make a couple plays like that, it will be good for his confidence. He won’t feel like he’s just there caddying for Adrian. He needs to assert himself a little more as the leader. Show some swagger on the field. Kid is kind of lacking in swagger if you ask me. Sometimes he makes a play and gets this big smile like he can’t believe he did it. That doesn’t scream “confidence” to me.
3. Will Alan Williams dial up some pressure?
Now this is the big question. Which game plan will Alan Williams whip out this week? Will he go with the nice varied blitzing approach they used against the Rams or will he default back to the old reliable Tampa-2 boring vanilla drop-and-dare-them-to-run approach? If we go by past experience, this will be a vanilla week. Williams tends to lay off the blitzes against teams with a deep threat. The exception being the second Bears game where he went hard after Jay Cutler. Houston has Andre Johnson, so that’s a deep threat. I think we’ll see a ton of two-deep and not a lot of the corner and safety blitzes. Maybe some up-the-middle pressure from Erin Henderson and Jasper Brinkley to give those D-tackles some help. Too bad because I really enjoyed the defensive approach against the Rams. The Vikes wreaked some havoc in that game. Havoc is fun.
4. Will Arian Foster go off?
The Vikes handled Steven Jackson, who is clearly not the player he was a couple years ago. Arian Foster is a whole different animal. I don’t even need to bring up the huge running performances the Vikings have allowed this year. Marshawn Lynch. Doug Martin. The whole Washington rush attack. Foster could wreck stuff this week. He could look across the field at Adrian Peterson and say to himself, “Hey remember me? I’m here too. You ain’t the only guy who can drop 200 on a team.” At the risk of sounding like I’m harping, this team needs to tackle. I don’t wanna see any of that bouncing off or diving at ankles crap. This is the time to strap it on. And wrap up. This is for the playoffs.
5. Will the Vikings still be in the playoff hunt once this one is over?
Short answer: No. Sorry but I can’t see the Vikes going into Houston and beating this team. And obviously if the Vikes lose this game they’re out of it. There may be some wacky scenarios where they can still get in by beating the Packers the final game but that will be just a shot in the dark. They have to win this game. And I don’t think they can win it. In fact I think we’re looking at a painful blowout. A possible three-TD beat down. This ain’t the Rams. Ain’t the Bears. This is a huge December road game against a two-loss team with Christian Ponder as your quarterback. And they have Arian Foster and Andre Johnson and J.J. Watt. The Vikings don’t win games like this even when they’re really good. And right now they’re not really good. They’re okay at best. Yeah, Adrian Peterson is transcendent right now. But it takes more than one guy. It takes a defense and it takes a QB who can make a play. Maybe they have the defense. Do they have a QB who can make a play? Ehhhhhhh….
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