Monday, September 11, 2006

Bowlful of Anxiety

We're just over 3 hours from Viking kickoff. I'm just under 5 hours from being able to watch them. So away we go with what worries me tonight.

I expect the Viking defensive line to dominate, as Udeze, Williams, Williams, and James recall images of Eller, Page, Larsen, and Marshall. I expect the secondary to perform admirably; I'm a little worried Santana Moss will get by everybody a time or two, but overall I don't fear Brunell or the Washington WRs. Winning the game on the defensive side of the ball will come down to the linebackers. Can they cover the TEs and RBs? Can they stop the Washington running game (most likely to feature Ladell Betts mostly)? Linebacker may once again be the big weakness for the Vikings; if they can't stop Washington from running the ball 4-5 yards a carry, as well as stop Washington from picking up 3rd downs with short passes, the Vikes are in trouble.

Wide Receivers
I think more of the Viking wideouts than most do; however, this is the type of game they must perform well in. Because of the Vikings' short passing game and Brad Johnson's intelligence, I'm not worried about the offensive line--if the wideouts can get open and make tough catches in traffic while getting hit. Johnson will be trying to release the ball in under 2 seconds; if the Viking WRs can't get any separation, and if they can't hang onto the ball with defenders draping them, it will be a very long night.

Special Teams
If tonight's game goes like many games have gone in week one, it will be a low scoring affair in which defensive lines hold the edge over offensive lines. The outcome could easily come down to field position. What will the Viking return game be like without Koren Robinson? Will Mewelde Moore be effective? And will the Vikings successfully cover the Washington returns? I fear a long punt or kick return setting Brunell up with the short field position that he'll require to function.

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