Week 16: Minnesota Vikings At Houston Texans
- QuarterbackThe Vikings have a one-dimensional offense. They know it and the Texans know it as well. Houston will do everything it can to invited Christian Ponder to throw the football. Ponder has problems throwing anything but short passes and he lacks confidence as well the ability to execute a legitimate NFL passing offense.Matt Schaub was an MVP candidate early in the season, but he needs to get the Texans back on track in the final weeks of the season. The Texans have excellent balance between the pass and the run, but they have not played with a lot of urgency. Schaub can turn things quickly in Houston’s favor by hitting a couple of big passes early.
- OffensePeterson is one of the most dynamic players in the NFL and he has played like an MVP candidate this season. Peterson’s 82-yard TD run vs. the Rams in Week 15 displayed his ability to take advantage of his blocks and then use his long speed to finish. He is the focal point of their offense. Tight end Kyle Rudolph can be a decent short-yardage receiver on third downs.Arian Foster should be on top of his game knowing that Adrian Peterson is on the other side of the field. Foster is a power runner who can also make explosive runs. He can also catch the ball. The Texans want to get the ball to Andre Johnson for explosion plays and tight end Owen Daniels can make things happen on third downs and one red zone.
- DefenseThe Vikings will be tested quite a bit by the versatility of the Houston offense. It’s one thing to stop the Bears and Rams in back-to-back weeks; it’s quite another to stop Schaub, Foster and Johnson. The Vikings are going to attempt to pressure Schaub with the speed of defensive end Jared Allen. Linebacker Chad Greenway is one of the best tacklers in the league.The Texans have the strength up front to challenge Peterson and devastate Ponder. J.J. Watt is a sensational talent. When he senses the Texans are facing a team with a below average quarterback, he gets very hungry and will get his share of sacks and pass deflections. Safeties Danieal Manning and Glover Quin both excel at making plays on the ball.
- Special TeamsThe Vikings have played effectively on special teams and that has played a key role for them all season. Chris Kluwe knows how to kick the ball high and keep opponents from returning it. Blair Walsh hit two 50-yard-plus field goals in the Week 15 win over the rams and has been one of the most effective kickers in the league.The Texans have been consistently weak on special teams this season, but they got a huge play in Week 15 when Bryan Braman returned a blocked punt eight yards for a touchdown. That was a vital play in the Texans win over the Colts. Shayne Graham has been good but not great for the Texans.
The Texans have been the top-ranked team in the AFC throughout the season, but their Week 14 Monday night loss to New England will weigh on their psyches until they get another chance at the Patriots or get through the AFC playoffs. The Texans are not likely to be inspired against the Vikings, but they will not allow themselves to get embarrassed at home.