JEFF: Adrian Attack
By Dan O'Donnell
Adrian Peterson is all the rage this week. Heck, why not? The sensational rookie is tearing up the record book and he's the only thing keeping Minnesota's season from going over the edge. His performance against San Diego last week was nothing short of amazing, especially when you consider that a vast majority of his yardage came in the second half. I think it's pretty clear that Peterson will rack up more than the 12 carries he got the last time the Vikings played the Packers.
San Diego ranked 7th in the NFL against the run going into last week. Peterson destroyed the Chargers with 296 yards on the ground. Sounds pretty bad for the Packers who come into this week ranked 8th in stopping the run. Yet, the rest of the Minnesota offense is completely toothless. The Vikings desperately want second-year quarterback Tarvaris Jackson to be The Guy. However, The Guy is banged up and may not be available Sunday against the Packers. If that's the case then Brooks Bollinger gets the start. Bollinger has seen quite a bit of action this year due to injuries to Jackson and Kelly Holcomb. With a career backup in under center, look for the Vikings to get more conservative than usual.
Sidney Rice is a nice rookie wide receiver but he's not going to take over a game. Furthermore, he's also banged up. So is Bobby Wade and Troy Williamson. Whoever starts at quarterback won't have much to throw to. Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe had some success against the Packers back in week four but he's also not the type to take over a game. I'm no head coach, but it seems to me with all the injuries and question marks at quarterback, Adrian Peterson will be a big part of the game plan. At this point, he may be the only part of the game plan.
But can he be stopped? He showed a lethal combination of speed and power in the San Diego game and throughout the season. He's tough to bring down and can make your head spin out in open space. Oh, he'll get to open space. He can turn the corner as quickly as any running back in the NFL. He sure is fun to watch, especially if he's on your fantasy football team. In the interest of full disclosure, he's on two of my three fantasy teams. I'm not sure which is worse, the fact that I enjoy watching a Viking or that I spend way too much time on fantasy football.
Nevertheless, Peterson will pose a greater threat than Larry Johnson or Clinton Portis. Both workhorse backs got the ball quite a bit but neither could break off a big play. LJ torched the Packers for a touchdown on a screen pass last week. However, it was the only time Johnson got out in open field. Other than that LJ was contained. It was the same story with Portis. Now comes Peterson, who leads the league in rushing and has shown us twice this season that he can take control of a game by himself. The Packers will need the same kind of shutdown effort put up against Kansas City and Washington to stop Peterson on Sunday.