Whatever the power balance between the two teams was before the weekend, the New England Patriots must be feeling a bit more confident about heading into their road game against the Minnesota Vikings knowing that Adrian Peterson isn’t playing.
The plague of domestic abuse is making its way through the ranks in the NFL, and the Vikings take a huge hit as their former MVP running back is now out of the picture, who knows for how long, for beating one of his children and being indicted by a jury for his actions. This means Matt Asiata will carry most of the carries instead of Peterson, but we might see more of Cordarrelle Patterson going for runs instead of receptions after 102 yards on the ground in the 34-6 win over the St. Louis Rams.
Matt Cassel is playing against his former team and the guy he used to back up, Tom Brady. Cassel was quite efficient against the Rams with 17-of-25 for 170 yards and a couple of touchdowns, and now needs to hope that the lessened run threat on his team’s behalf won’t hurt his ability to continue to make throws against a defense that collapsed in the previous week during the second half at Miami, giving up 23 unanswered points in a 33-20 loss to the Dolphins
A lot of blame was put on Tom Brady and his offensive line. He was beat around by Cameron Wake and the Dolphins’ pass rush, finishing with just 29-of-56, leading the Patriots to only 67 yards of offense in the second half of the game. Not having their leading running back shouldn’t stop the Vikings from taking the ball through the ground after the Patriots gave up 191 rushing yards to Miami, 126 of them coming in the second half.
The Patriots haven’t opened at 0-2 since 2001, and the last time they’ve found themselves two games behind the lead in the AFC East was early in the 2002 season. It’s not time to panic yet, but it’s a rough way to start the season with two road games, especially after the first one completely falls apart at some point without an ability to put a finger on one single reason that started the great collapse.
The Vikings haven’t been successful against the Patriots, losing their last three games against them, the last of which being a 28-18 loss in New England back in 2010. Brady himself has played in all three wins, throwing eight touchdowns in the games and finishing with a 110.7 passer rating. He’s started this season with 69.7, and expect him to once again try and target a lot out of Rob Gronkowski in order to try and forget about the opening week.