Vikings-Buccaneers matchup of the day: Friday

Posted Sept. 16, 2011 @ 12:45 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

Here's a key matchup to consider for Sunday's Vikings-Buccaneers game in Minnesota:

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson vs. Buccaneers front seven

The Vikings might have to go retrograde if their passing game continues to wallow, and that would mean more touches (18 last week) for RB Adrian Peterson. The league trend might be to throw the ball (there were 14 300-yard passers in Week One, an all-time mark), but the Vikings came out of the chute struggling to get anything going through the air. Peterson, however, was largely effective, bullying his way through tackle attempts and ripping off one pretty 46-yard rumble that included speed, burst and power.

There's no doubting Peterson's value to the Vikings' offense. In fact, some wonder if he doesn't need to go for 150-plus yards rushing for the Vikings to win every week. In a league where the trend has been passing to set up the run, the inverse might be true for the Vikings. Peterson likely has to set a tone, running through eight-man Bucs fronts on Sunday, because they know the first- and second-down attempts are coming. A week after touching the ball fewer than 20 times, a steady diet of Peterson surely is on the menu.

The Bucs have a young defensive front and a LB corps in flux. They looked below-average against the Lions, both in coverage and against the run and appeared to have trouble hemming in speed to the edge. Peterson can make them pay on the second level if the offensive line opens enough holes. With two rookie defensive ends playing a fair amount of snaps, look for offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave to call for some plays to the edge to test the rookies' gap integrity.