First things first: Some bragging on myself. I called a 21-21 game with the Chiefs, and it was a nail-biter with us coming out on top in a narrow margin of victory 24-21. Secondly, I called a 23-17 game with the Raiders, and only missed it by one TD (30-17). In my Chiefs Scouting Report, I said that penalties would be the downfall of one of the teams, and it was. In my Raiders Weekly Scout, I said that we would need to force more three-and-outs, get in Collins' face, and stop the run. We almost didn't stop the run enough, but we did force the Raiders to go three-and-out multiple times which helped our offense and defense tremendously. Not to mention Sharper's stuffing of Collins that led to a TD.
This week's scouting report is longer than the previous weeks because after a few games into the season, we have the ability to now look at some stats and incorporate those stats into the report as proof that GP is more than just a visionary. With GP, you get the full package with all the bells and whistles. And it's all free for the best fans of the best team in the NFL.
And away we go...
Looking at four weeks worth of stats from nfl.com, and keeping in mind that the Vikings were off last weekend so they don't have the numbers that the Texans have by virtue of not playing a fourth game as the Texans have, it still looks very, very favorable for the good guys.
The Vikes have rushed for 14 first downs and passed for a whopping 50 first downs. Their opponents received their first downs against the Vikings by 21 rushes and 45 passes. Translation: Vikes pass the ball for the clear majority of their first downs, and their opponents are having more success in rushing for first downs than the Vikings are. The bottom line is that we have a solid running game, similar to the Broncos scheme where the running back (regardless of who it is) can have success due to the blocking schemes. Look for more running success by the Texans this weekend as we chomp up the clock and therefore force the Vikes defense, which is already weak against the run as it is, to stay on the field for long stretches throughout the game. The Vikes' defensive unit is allowing an average of about 100 rushing yards per game, and please look at those three opponents they've played: Dallas, Philly, and Chicago. Not exactly a haven for great runners on any of those three teams. Capers knows the best way to keep Moss and Culpepper from connnecting is to keep them off the field in the first place, so expect to get a heavy dose of rushing from the Texans this weekend.
As we looked at the Vikings' stats, let's swithc the focus to the Texans. The Texans have rushed for 25 first downs, and have passed for 46 first downs. Our opponents have rushed for 26 first downs against us, and have passed for 45 first downs. Now this includes a FOURTH game, and even with the fourth game we are equal with the Vikes in terms of how many passing first downs we've allowed. Look at the running backs we've faced: LaDainian Tomlinson, Priest Holmes, and a nice trio of runners in Oakland. They got their yards, but we kept Tomlinson and Holmes pretty much out of the game in terms of scoring. Translation: The Vikes have not seen a running game like they will see this weekend, and the Vike's running game is by far the softest we have faced thus far.
Our passing defense is no weaker than the Vikings' as you look at those first down stats. Sure, Randy Moss is a threat. But if you've noticed anything in the NFL, you'd have to admit that Randy either shows up completely or he doesn't show up at all. He either scores three TDs and racks up 200 yds. receiving, or he is an ineffective player throughout the course of a game. You get Dr. Jeckyl or Mr. Moss and nothing in between.
GP's gameplan: Smith and Bennett are both expected to be out of this weekend's game, and without the benefit of a solid running game the Texans defense can focus more on zoning against the pass and zoning against Culpepper's rushing potential during pass plays. Shadow Culpepper with someone like Babin or Sharper, and the rest is easy. Culpepper's passing confidence grows or declines according to whether he can bust big plays himself. The less freedom he has to roam about the field, the more chances he takes passing the ball to make something happen. Then Moss gets irritated and the whole team just spirals downward from there on out. Most teams that beat the Vikings do it by singling out Culpepper and shutting him down from a running aspect, forcing him to throw risky passes. Whether or not the passes are intercepted or not is irrelevant. It translates into three-and-outs, and the Vikes are once again off the field while their defense is out there all day. The Vikings are a weird and moody team. If they are clicking, they are dangerous. If they just have a few difficulties and it's not super-easy for them on the field, the storm clouds gather and they are on the sidelines fighting with each other on national television. Makes for good TV.
GP's prayer: If the fans raise the noise level and cause Culpepper to burn time-outs, as well as forcing the false starts, this will not be as close a game as some people think it will. It'll result in some Vikings scores that are scored during the latter part of the game when it's "junk time," and it'll appear that they played a great game but came up a little short.
In conclusion, we ain't the pass-happy Cowboys they faced in week one. The Vikes are coming off a two-week rest and have to play in a loud stadium in humid Houston. Putting it all together--Our rushing ability, the crowd noise, lack of Viking rushing threats, and a Texans defense that is growing more and more aggressive--and we have the formula for a win.
Vikings 21 (3-2)
Texans 27 (3-2)
This article was written by gp_shafer