Free NFL Picks: Minnesota at New England 10-31-2010

October 29, 2010

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Minnesota Vikings at New England Patriots

Sunday October 31st, 2010 4:15 PM EST

Line: New England -5.5

Overview:

Despite being 5-1, the Patriots have narrowly escaped defeat in their last two games. The Vikings have underachieved to the point of unrecognition and will be greated this week by an unforgiving Patriots team. The Vikings haven’t beaten a winning team yet, so heading into Foxboro and stealing a victory away from Bill Belichick will be no easy task.

Keys to the Game:

  • Randy Moss has a habit of performing well when he is angry. Dating all the way back to his rookie year, when he was on a mission to make every team who passed on him in the draft pay, Moss is at his best when he is angry. The Patriots saw him as a cancerous bottom feeding dispensable asset. Moss went from a Super Bowl contending team to a team that is probable not going to be playing in January. Randy Moss has never won a Super Bowl and remaining on the Patriots might have been his best shot at doing so before his career is over. There is no doubt that Moss will give everything he has to beat the corners he went up against every day in practice while he was at New England. When Randy Moss is at his best, he is not coverable. Expect him to be at his best on Sunday.
  • The Vikings need to decide whether Brett Favre with a broken leg is really better than a healthy Tarvaris Jackson. This season does not even remotely resemble last season. With Sydney Rice out, Brett Favre has been completely out of sorts. Aside from his photography career taking off, Favre has little to be proud of this season. He has only led the Vikings to two victories and the Favre magic has been non existent. The Vikings need a new spark on offense. Their offensive line will have a much harder time blocking for Brett Favre, who requires a perfect pocket, than Tartvaris Jackson, who is known for his mobility. Even if Favre gets perfect protection, he has struggled all year with an elbow injury that may make him ineffective at getting the ball down the field. I realize that it is Brett Favre, but at some point, a one armed one legged 41 year old interception throwing machine may not be the best option on your roster. The streak is incredible, but if Brett Favre is as concerned with the well being of his teammates as he says he is, he will give the reigns to Tarvaris Jackson.
  • The Patriots aren’t amazing in their box score, but they are playing Patriots football reminiscent of their days as a dynasty. The Patriots have a lot of guys that most people have never heard of. They have a defense led by a bunch of late round picks and team oriented, unselfish football players. Their special teams sells out on every single play and aside from Tom Brady, it is difficult to find a super star on their offense. They might have two Pro Bowlers on their entire roster and still win a Super Bowl, which is classic Bill Belichick. Belichick hates high profile players. Teams often take on the identity of their head coach and the Patriots are a prime example of that. With guys like Aaron Hernandez and Patrick Chung emerging as the ‘stars’ on their respective sides of the ball, the Patriots have gone back to their roots. The team has restored their faith in their head coach and no one is bigger than the team. The Patriots are the most disciplined and focused team in the NFL. While they are not flashy and don’t dominate statistically, they find a way to win football games.
  • The Patriots need to send everyone. Run blitzing is going to eliminate Adrian Peterson. The Patriots are stout against the run already, but they are going to be able to be more aggressive because of the Vikings quarterback situation. The Patriots are probably hoping Favre plays. He isn’t going be able to get outside the pocket, so blitzing is going to eliminate not only the deep ball, but also his ability to find his check down guys. The Patriots can load up eight in the box to take away from Adrian Peterson without having to worry to badly about anyone except for Moss streaking down the field. The Vikings utilize Percy Harvin and Visanthe Shiancoe and loading up the box adheres to covering guys who are most effective when going across the middle. The safety can almost ignore Moss going down the field if Favre plays. While I expect Moss to have a big game, I don’t see him catching a lot of deep passes. Favre can’t plant on his broken leg and his arm isn’t going to allow him to throw a fifty yard bomb to Moss. The Patriots need to be aggressive while keeping everything in front of them. If Adrian Peterson gets going, the Patriots could be in for a long night. The most important thing for New England is containing the run while disrupting the passing game.

Wrap Up:

Minnesota is going nowhere fast. They have let down their entire fan base after such a promising year last year. Despite posting four losses, none have been by a margin of the given 5 1/2 point spread. New England has won three games this season by a greater margin; however, their last two games have been decided by three. This one is going to be close, but I think the Vikings are going to take a giant leap backwards this week. They are going to rely heavily on Adrian Peterson, but the Patriots are too smart to allow a one dimensional offense to get going against their defense. The Patriots are overdue for a big win. The Vikings are nothing special anymore. It’s time to find a new signal caller.

Free NFL Pick: New England -5.5


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