The (1-3) Minnesota Vikings come off their bye to face the slumping (1-3) Carolina Panthers in Minnesota.
The big story in this game is the unfortunate loss which Adrian Peterson has been dealing with this week. His 2-year-old son was beaten to death by his mother’s boyfriend. Peterson will play the game with a heavy heart. I expect for Peterson to have a big day. If Brett Favre taught us anything, playing with a heavy heart motivates big time players to play outside of themselves. Adrian already runs harder than any back in the league so look out for an emotional performance of spectacular proportions. Peterson will use the football field to channel his anger and pain into something positive. This is bigger than the game of football. Adrian deserves the respect and sympathy of all.
In my opinion, Adrian should be left alone in a room with the murder to do anything he deems necessary. I don’t know what would be worse, prison or a beating from one of the strongest guys in professional sports.
The other storyline which emerged this week is the decision to start Matt Cassel over Christian Ponder. I think this was a smart decision, because the Ponder led offense was dull and lacked the explosion it needed to win football games. When Cassel took the snaps the team looked electric. Jerome Simpson and Greg Jennings showed why they are the best receivers on the team with a big game for both guys. It will be important for the offense to feed the rock to AP and convert on third downs. The biggest thing for Cassel is to extend drives and give the team a chance to get points on every drive.
The big surprise this season has been the lack of production from tight end Kyle Rudolph. With Ponder in and out of the lineup Rudolph suffers because he is Ponder’s favorite target. With the emergence of Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson in the offense I don’t see Rudolph’s numbers increasing all that much. Cassel will look to spread the ball around, hopefully Mr. Rudolph can get his hands on some footballs.
I look for the offense to pick up where it left off before the bye and win two games in a row. Hopefully the defense can play to their full potential this week and shut down the big play ability of Cam Newton and Steve Smith.