The playoffs are in sight. The Minnesota Vikings need to win once, probably twice to make it into the playoffs, regardless if Adrian Peterson breaks the single-season rushing record and does enough to win the MVP. The Houston Texans are about securing home field advantage throughout the postseason.
The big question for this game is stopping Adrian Peterson. Can he be stopped? The Texans are one of the best in the NFL against the run, allowing 93.2 yards per game. Adrian Peterson is averaging 129.4 per game, 6.3 per carry, which is also more than what his struggling quarterback, Christian Ponder, is averaging per pass.
And that’s where the Texans want the game to go. Making it one dimensional. They can still win if Peterson gets his numbers, but if Ponder gets enough freedom to operate well and accurately, which hasn’t happened often when the Vikings needed his arm to win football games, it’s going to very difficult for the Texans, still probably reeling from their shackling in New England two weeks ago.
And that’s why winning out is so important, and especially in this one. With a 12-2 record, they need to make sure that they don’t slip in the final couple of weeks (Minnesota and at Indianapolis) or they’ll lose home field advantage, and have to travel to some snowy field to make their way further in the playoffs. Playing in both Denver or New England doesn’t sound too lucrative for a team that is also heavily based on their running attack, but has a much more reliable man at quarterback.
The Texans’ running game can be stopped. The Patriots proved that. Still, Arian Foster had a very good time against the Colts last week, running for 165 yards in the 29-17 win. The Vikings allow over 110 yards per game on the ground, but their defense has looked good in the past couple of weeks in the wins against the Bears and the Rams. A problem for them is the turnover ratio: The Texans are +15 this season, while the Vikings are -3. If Minnesota are to win, they’re going to need much more than Adrian Peterson at his best. They’re going to need to win the turnover battle (Ponder has thrown four interceptions over the last four games), and their special teams to win the battle, hopefully with some big plays from Marcus Sherels.
Prediction – The Texans are 6-1 at home while the Vikings are 2-5 on the road. Christian Ponder needs to be at his best to help Adrian Peterson in this one, but he won’t be even near his best. The Texans are too good in most positions for the one-dimensional Vikings to handle.