Houston Texans vs. Minnesota Vikings
Sunday, November 2, 2008, 1pm EST
Metrodome, Minneapolis, MN
Records: Houston 3-4, Minnesota 3-4
Series history: Minnesota leads 1-0.
Minnesota offense 12th overall (17th passing, 8th rushing); Scoring- 15th, 22.0 ppg. vs. Houston defense 16th overall (16th passing, 21st rushing); Scoring- 26th – 26.4 ppg.
The Vikings are all about running the football, and they have the best in the business to hand the ball to in running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson has 684 yards rushing with five touchdowns, and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry. Peterson has the ability to run over defenders or around them.
Minnesota starts veteran Gus Frerotte at quarterback, who has been an NFL journeyman. Frerotte is not much more than serviceable, and he is keeping the proverbial seat warm for former second-round pick Tavaris Jackson, who was the opening day starter, then was benched after he struggled to start the season. Frerotte has completed 57.2% of his passes this season for 1286 yards, with five touchdowns, and seven interceptions. Frerotte has a quarterback rating of 72.6.
Frerotte’s favorite target has been wide receiver Bobby Wade, who has 30 receptions for 347 yards. The Vikings most productive wideout has been free agent acquisition Bernard Berrian, who has caught 28 balls for 57 yards and three touchdowns. Some of the other receivers that could give the Texans secondary fits are Sidney Rice, Aundrae Allison, running back Chester Taylor, and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe.
Texans defensive end Mario Williams is having another big year as he has 25 tackles, seven sacks, and three forced fumbles on the season. Amobi Okoye seems poised to take the next step toward being one of the elite DT’s in the game in just his second season, and Travis Johnson has been playing better of late.
The Texans group of linebackers is one of the best in the league featuring Pro Bowler DeMeco Ryans and surprising second-year star Zac Diles. Throw in Morlon Greenwood and they are an active group of backers that can play sideline to sideline.
The Houston secondary has played much better now that they have Dunta Robinson back. Robinson may not be ready to start yet, but has had increased minutes in the last two weeks since he’s been back. Corner Fred Bennett is a physical player, but can be beat deep, same as free agent acquisition Jacques Reeves. Demarcus “Petey” Faggins is a solid nickel corner who has been getting more and more snaps.
Best offensive matchup for Minnesota: Vikings interior line vs. Texans defensive tackles- Much of Adrian Peterson’s success has derived from the great blocking of the Vikings offensive line, who are big and can move people.
Best defensive matchup for Houston: Mario Williams vs. Ryan Cook- The Texans have been moving Williams around and have found very good success with that. Look for the Texans to line up Williams against Cook, who isn’t as talented as Bryant McKinnie over at the left side.
Houston offense 4th overall (5th passing, 11th rushing); Scoring- 11th – 25.0 ppg. vs. Minnesota defense 8th overall (20th passing, 2nd rushing); Scoring- 19th- 23.9 ppg.
The Texans offense has been moving the ball as well as anyone in the league, and Matt Schaub is playing as well as any quarterback in the league right now.
Rookie running back Steve Slaton is looking like a star, as he can run the ball and catch it out of the backfield. Slaton will likely have a tough time against a great run-stopping defense like Minnesota.
When Schaub goes to the air, he has several options and the best of which is Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson. Johnson is a difficult matchup for anyone, as he is a polished route runner, is tough over the middle, and possesses deep speed. Opposite Johnson is possession guy Kevin Walter, and the “other Andre,” Andre Davis is a deep threat in his own right. Tight end Owen Daniels also has soft hands, and can find open spaces in a zone.
Best offensive matchup for Houston: Andre Johnson vs. any corner that lines up against him- Johnson is a legitimate star in the NFL, and no receiver is playing better right now. Johnson’s presence alone opens up the field for Kevin Walter and Owen Daniels.
Best defensive matchup for Minnesota: Jared Allen vs. any Houston tackle- Allen is one of the premiere pass rushers in the game and either Eric Winston or Duane Brown will need some help if Allen is across the line from either of them.
Minnesota: PK Ryan Longwell, P Chris Kluwe, LS Cullen Loeffler, PR/KOR Bobby Wade
Houston: PK Kris Brown, P Matt Turk, LS Brian Pittman, PR/KOR Jacoby Jones
The Texans have an advantage in all phases of special teams, as Jacoby Jones is turning into one of the most explosive return men in the game.