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A primetime start to the Vikings’ season

September 8, 2008

by Matt Kane

I am ready for some football.

I’ve gotten a couple spoons full of high school and college football over the past two weeks, but now I’m ready for the big boys.

And what better way to kick off the NFL season than to watch the Vikings and Packers bash each other’s heads in on Monday Night Football.

Players like Minnesota’s new defensive end Jared Allen and Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rogers will finally get to see what all the fuss about the Vikings/Packers’ rivalry is all about.

Rogers has been on the sideline during the past three seasons, but he did little more than pat Brett Favre on the back during each game.

As we all know by now, Favre is gone, and Rogers is the man. That means Rogers will have a huge target on his chest with Allen aiming for a bull’s-eye on every down.

It’s always fun watching the Vikings and Packers, but I never know what to expect.

Nobody could have seen the butt whoopin’ Green Bay put on Minnesota last season at Lambeau Field — 34-0. That win gave the Packers a season sweep. They won the first game 23-16 inside the Metrodome.

Everybody seems to think Minnesota is the team to beat in the NFC North Division, but I’m not quite sold, yet.

Every Viking fans should to not get too excited about the Vikings. Even when they are the best team in the NFL the Vikings always seem to let us fans down. Remember 1998?

That’s why I’m not going to believe the Vikings are the North’s best team until I see it.

The defense is the strength of the Vikings, but, according to last year’s statistics, only half the defensive game plan seems to have worked.

The Vikings were ranked first in run defense, giving up 74.1 rushing yards per game, and dead last in pass defense.

The weak Vikings’ secondary gave up a league-worst 264.1 passing yards per game last year. That, my friends, is not good.

The fact that a good portion of the 2007 secondary — cornerbacks Antoine Winfield, Cedric Griffin, Charles Gordon and Marcus McCauley, and safety Darren Sharper — is back in purple, and will be on the field for most of the defensive snaps kind of scares me.

The other guys listed on the depth chart — Husain Abdullah, Tyrell Johnson and Eric Frampton — I’ve never heard of. That doesn’t exactly comfort my uneasiness over the pass defense.

The so-called experts say the addition of Allen, the NFL’s leader in sacks in 2007, helps the secondary because the pressure up front should be greater.

I hope this is true, and I hope we see repeating examples of that pressure tonight during the Viking’s game at Green Bay.

I hope Allen and fellow defensive end Ray Edwards continually meet at the quarterback on passing downs.

Frustrating Rogers will be the best way to get to the Packers, I believe.

Unfortunately, the same can be said about Vikings quarterback Tarvarais Jackson.

If Jackson can stay healthy, and that’s a big if, all he needs to do is manage the football. Complete a few passes here and there just to keep the Packer defense thinking the passing game is an option for the Vikings.

I expect Adrian Peterson to get his share of carries, but, as we saw last season, teams can stop the run when they forget about the pass and crowd the line of scrimmage.

It’s up to Jackson to give the Vikings running game a chance.

Actually, if Jackson’s knee injury hampers him, I wouldn’t feel too bad having Gus Frerotte under Matt Birk for a couple possession. I know he can throw the football.

As for a prediction, I have to go with the Vikings, 20-13. I just can’t see Rogers excelling in his first NFL start. Most quarterbacks struggle early in their careers, and I expect the same from Rogers.