With kickoff minutes away, here are a few final thoughts about today's game…
Don't sleep on the Chiefs
Kansas City enters today's game with a sleepy 1-4 record and without the services of the best player on their offense – RB Jamaal Charles. But don't let that fool you. Today's test is a tough one for the Vikings and coming out with a victory will require a full team effort.
Charles is out, but the Chiefs have a bevy of capable backs behind him. De'Anthony Thomas is a shifty scat back who lines up in the backfield and as a receiver. Knile Davis is a reliable veteran who has filled Charles' shoes in the past. And Charcandrick West looks more than ready for an increased role.
As for the four losses, three of them have come against undefeated teams – Cincinnati, Denver and Green Bay – and the fourth came last week to Chicago despite the Chiefs leading 17-3 at one point. The loss of Charles in that game was obviously a factor.
Game within the game: Vikings interior OL vs. Chiefs interior DL
Chiefs have two banged up starters on the DL, but they also have quality depth along the line and they have underrated players capable of stepping up. Two to keep an eye on are DT Jaye Howard, who is playing as well if not better than the more well-known Dontari Poe, and DE Allen Bailey, who has a motor unmatched by most. The Vikings interior OL – LG Brandon Fusco, C Joe Berger and RG Mike Harris – must be on their game to help neutralize the middle of the Chiefs defensive line in order to pave the way for Adrian Peterson and protect Teddy Bridgewater.
Playing it safe
As detailed in a film room segment on the website earlier in the week, the Chiefs bring a unique defensive tactic to the table. Give the injuries at CB and their depth at safeties, the Chiefs will often times play with three safeties on the field and sometimes even four. The starting safeties are Husain Abdullah and Ron Parker, but defensive coordinator Bob Sutton uses both Tyvon Branch and Eric Berry in his sub packages. Abdullah is the most versatile of the bunch – he plays in a traditional safety spot, as a WILL in nickel and even as an outside CB in some spots.
It's a unique strategy and it will be interesting to see what kind of matchups it creates.
It's the final season of outdoor football for the Vikings, and so far in 2015 the weather has been beautiful. That trend will continue today, with the Vikings and Chiefs scheduled to kickoff under sunny skies and with temperatures right around 55 degrees.