Saturday, November 18, 2006

Another Day, Same Song?

The Minnesota Vikings travel to Miami this Sunday to take on the Miami Dolphins. Unfortunately for the Vikings, the Dolphins suddenly have discovered the defense that was to have made them contenders in the AFC this season and they've added a dose of reasonably good play from the formerly suspect Joey Harrington for good measure. The result has been two straight victories over two of the NFL's better teams, at Chicago and against Kansas City.

At 4-5, the Vikings need a victory on Sunday to keep alive their suddenly fading playoff prospects. With their recent struggles on offense and on pass defense, that might be too much to ask of Brad Childress' team.

For the season, Miami is averaging 16 points on 319 yards of offense. That's approximately six points below their EPT per game. On defense, the Dolphins are allowing 19 points per game on 277 yards of offense--right at their EPY.

The Vikings, meanwhile, average 16 points per game on 310 yards of offense--approximately six points below their EPT. On defense, the Vikings allow 18 points per game on 292 yards of offense--approximately three points less than their EPY.

The season averages suggest a tight game with the slight edge to Minnesota. But the play of the Dolphins and the Vikings over the past two weeks bodes more ominous for Minnesota.

In week nine, against Chicago, Miami scored 10 points more than its EPT while holding Chicago eight points below its EPT. Last week, Miami's offense faltered against Kansas City, finishing with eight points less than its EPT. The defense, however, remained solid, holding Kansas City to seven points less than its EPT. More impressive was that Miami held Kansas City's formerly formidable offense to a relatviely meager 265 yards.

At it's peak--if there has been such a thing, Minnesota's 2006 offense has struggled to meet its EPT. With an average offensive output of 11 points per 300 yards of offense and facing a team that is playing as well defensively as are the Dolphins, Sunday could be a long day for the Vikings.

The Vikings' one possible avenue of salvation, not surprisingly, appears to be through the defense. Having faced Joey Harrington when he quarterbacked the Lions, the Vikings are familiar with his tendencies and his penchant for throwing the blind-look pass into the flat. If the Vikings can take advantage of Harrington, they might squeeze out a victory. Otherwise, it's time to start thinking about the draft.

Prediction: Until last week, the Vikings always played their best when I picked against them. Last week suggested a new trend, however. Miami 17 over Minnesota 13.

Up Next: Postgame.

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