Vikings to face a familiar face
LIMBECK:I guess the best thing we can say about the Vikings so far is they've played two close, down-to-the-wire games to start the season. But after beating Jacksonville in overtime to start the season, the Vikings lost 23-20 to the Colts last week and the offense wasn't anything to marvel about. Now the Vikings host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday and this is a team that might be the best in football at this point and the defense is outstanding. The first question to you, Captain Purple, will the Vikings be able to score an offensive touchdown against the 49ers?
FELDMAN:The Vikings might be lucky to score a point on Sunday. San Francisco is good enough on defense to shut down Percy Harvin. And after watching the first two games of the season, it's pretty apparent that if a team can shut down Harvin, they're going to shut down the Vikings. The 49ers defense is as good as it gets right now. They don't have to disguise anything, don't have to shuffle players around a lot before a snap. They line up and smack you in the mouth, then laugh about it. Helmet Hair, if the Vikings want to keep this one close, they have to get A.P. going early, right?
LIMBECK:Adrian Peterson has the ability to pop a huge run at any time. But this might be a tough challenge for him. I don't know why the 49ers would do anything but put eight men in the box when Peterson is on the field. The Vikings have shown very little ability to throw the ball medium to deep downfield so the 49ers are unlikely to be threaten by the vertical passing game. Part of the problem with the Vikings passing game is that they seldom even throw a pass more than 15 yards downfield. The 49ers also feature a strong secondary so look for them to try and stuff the run. Do you think the Vikings should try to take more chances downfield or is the receiving core just too poor.
FELDMAN: Taking more shots downfield is a great idea. Problem is, Harvin is their only receiver who can get downfield and get open. When they send Harvin deep, that makes it an all-or-nothing play. They can't get away with that against San Francisco. Things will get better next week when
Jerome Simpson returns. He'll be able to run those deep routes and actually get some separation. That will make it easier on Christian Ponder and the entire offense. ... We know how good the 49ers defense is, but there's not enough talk about how good their offense is. By the way, Helmet Hair, there's a receiver who wears No. 84 who'll be back in the Metrodome on Sunday.
LIMBECK:Oh yes, Randy Moss returns once again to the Metrodome. When last here he was on his way out after a very short second stint with the Vikings. Moss has had modest success in the first two games with the 49ers, five catches for 51 yards and a touchdown. But he is very likely to
draw a response from Vikings fans. What will you be doing when Moss makes a play, cheering or booing? One thing Moss does give the 49ers is the vertical passing threat the Vikings currently lack. The 49ers have become a decent offensive team as Frank Gore is a strong running back and Alex
Smith is doing more at quarterback then just managing the game. After you are done cheering or booing Moss, sum up what the Vikings need to do on defense to keep the 49ers in check.
FELDMAN:They need to pay more attention to 49ers tight end Vernon Davis than they do to Moss. Davis is one of the fastest players on San Francisco's roster — at 6-feet-3 and 250 pounds. The guy is a beast and the Vikings don't have a player who can cover him. Davis is a mismatch
speed-wise for any of the Vikings linebackers. He's a mismatch for any of their safeties size-wise. We know San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh likes to play smash-mouth, old-school football, but if he watched any video of last week's Vikes-Colts game, he might not give Frank Gore a
single carry. The Vikings can't cover all of the Niners' weapons — Davis, Moss, Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham, Gore. Alex Smith will have a field day, unless ... can Jared Allen finally get to a QB and bring him down?
LIMBECK:Plus Alex Smith enters the game with 216 straight passes without an interception. And the Vikings have no picks this year and just eight all of last year. The Vikings only hope might be if they can sack Smith about six times and hurry him a bunch more. Allen would need half of those
sacks. I'm not too sure that's going to happen, however, and that's bad news for the home team: 49ers 24, Vikings 9.
FELDMAN:This one has all the making of a repeat of last year's game against New Orleans at the Metrodome. Drew Brees threw for 412 yards and five touchdowns in that one. Smith won't quite hit those numbers because, well, he's not Drew Brees. Still, there could be a lot of empty seats at Mall of America Field by the fourth quarter: 49ers 36, Vikings 10.