Fellow Rumblers. I thought I'd share with you my thoughts on tomorrow's tilt at the Metrodome. A current Minneapolis resident and life-long Bills fan, I am deep in the bowels of Vikings land, and this week have proudly sported my red, white and blue in the faces of all the purple priders. Having grown up in this part of the country my entire life, I have witnessed Vikings Nation go through a myriad of emotions somewhat similar to what Bills fans have also experienced. However, this Sunday, someone will have to win, and I am excited for this matchup for a number of reasons.
First a little history. In the last decade, it is well documented of the struggles of our Bills franchise. What you may not realize about the Vikings however, is that they have made the playoffs five times in the 2000's. 2000, 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2010. They made it to the NFC title game in 2001 and lost to Atlanta (Under Denny Green) and of course last year they lost to the Saints (under the direction of Brad Childress). They have a similar proud franchise and tradition, with four Super Bowl losses and a myriad of close losses that have led to many nightmares for their fan base.
Over the course of the last two seasons, expectations have risen to never before seen heights in the Twin Cities as superstars like Favre, Peterson, and Moss have entered the fray to lead the Purple to the promise land. Those stories are well documented. As is former Bills Pat Williams and Antoine Winfield playing key roles in a dominating defense over the last six seasons. Despite the number of pro bowl players, drama-laden antics of #4, and schism between players and HC, the Vikings have accumulated winning season the past 2 years that Bills fans dare to dream of. However, this season expectations were set at an all time high, and the fan base grew down right angry by week 7. Just 2 weeks ago, the fan base was polled on whether or not Brad Childress should be fired; 93% of 3,500 fans polled agreed he should be gone. The next day, he was after the embarrassing loss to Green Bay, their arch rival.
The talk in town this week has been pretty interesting. From afar, Vikings fans and media members are commenting on this "plucky" Bills club. Usual statements are "you cannot underestimate these Bills, they have played a lot of close games. But in the end, the crowd noise of the metrodome, the defensive pass rush of the Vikings and the play of AP against the leagues 32nd rush defense will lead the Vikings to victory." This very well may be the scenario that may happen, but its hilarious to see how little national people know about our team. They say our offensive line is awful, they don't give Fitzpatrick the respect he deserves, and no one knows anything about Chan Gailey.
I watch every Vikings and Bills game every week. The Vikings secondary is really bad. Winfield is still Winfield, but their safeties look lost, and are terrible tacklers. Asher Allen and Chris Cook are beatable corners, and getting the Vikings in nickel and dime packages really plays to the weaknesses of the Vikes. Their front 7 is still solid, however the play of Kevin Williams, Jared Allen and Ray Edwards has dropped off substantially this year. Greenway, Leber and EJ Henderson remain 3 of the best LB's in the league. Running the ball is never easy versus the Vikings, as getting solid blocks on those LB's is always difficult. For the Bills to have success Sunday, they need to be willing to wing it deep, run great route trees that fool those Vikings safeties and protect Fitzmagic. The crowd noise at the Dome is a huge benefit to the Vikings DE's as it gives them that split second advantage off the ball. I suspect Gailey will come out firing even so, and defer as always. Staying in the game in the 1st half is critical. Getting the ball to start the second half, before the home crowd gets back in its seats is a huge strategic game management decision.
When the Vikings have the ball, look for them to continue a more conservative game plan with 25 carries for AP. While he is questionable, I fully expect him to play and Toby Gerhardt is a sufficient replacement as Gerhardt is your classic tough yardage, fall forward RB who keeps the chains moving.
Shiancoe is Favre's favorite target and we know what a struggle it is for Buffalo to cover the TE. For Buffalo, Steve Johnson should have ample opportunities and we get to see how he rebounds from "the drop."
I will be 50 yard line on the Bills sideline to take this one in. I am excited as ever to see the Bills, and a group of 75 Bills fans are pre-gaming at a local establishment prior to the game. We will do what we can to cheer on our Bills to a victory. I hope you enjoy the game and leave comments on predictions and analysis below!