Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 9/21/12

The San Francisco 49ers have torn through the top two teams in the NFC North from last season in the first two weeks of the season, and in Week 3 they face the Minnesota Vikings.  

Will San Francisco continue their domination of the NFC North, or will the Vikings stage an epic upset? 

Let’s take a look at three bold predictions for this Sunday’s game.

Christian Ponder has his statement game against the 49ers

Christian Ponder was thrown into the fire as a rookie quarterback after the Donovan McNabb experiment failed.

Ponder had the deck stacked against him with a new head coach, a new offensive coordinator, no offseason program and an offensive line that was downright offensive.

This year Ponder has made strides with a 75.8 completion percentage (best in the NFL) and no interceptions through his first two games, but inconsistency in the red zone and two costly fumbles have limited the Vikings' offense.

The Vikings' coaching staff has kept the game plan fairly simple in the first two weeks to allow Ponder to build confidence and have limited Adrian Peterson in the running game by swapping series with Toby Gerhart but this week things will be different. 

Look for Ponder to air the ball out down the field, and for the Vikings to lean hard on Peterson, especially late in the game. Ponder has the arm to sling the ball down field, and even without his full complement of receivers (Jerome Simpson is still suspended this week) Ponder will finally emerge this week as the Vikings' franchise quarterback.

The Vikings' defense will certainly need to do their part to prevent the 49ers from long-sustained drives, which means that Jared Allen needs to not only show up, but actually get to the quarterback this week against the 49ers.

Randy Moss catches his final touchdown at the Metrodome

Randy Moss comes back to a place he knows well when he returns to the Metrodome this week as a member of the San Francisco 49ers. Moss is no stranger to the end zone in this building, and he will certainly be looking to find the stripe at least once in this game against his former team.

So far with the 49ers, the Superfreak has been a good soldier collecting only five receptions for 61 yards and one touchdown against the Packers, but if there is ever a time for the San Francisco coaching staff to let Randy be Randy, it’s this week in a familiar stadium against a porous secondary.

With the San Francisco passing game actually looking dangerous this season with the addition of Mario Manningham and Moss and with Michael Crabtree finally showing some promise and tight end Vernon Davis continuing to be a threat on every play there will be plays for Moss to run down field with single coverage, where he will certainly prevail.

Look for the 49ers to air the ball out Randy early in the game, and then utilize him as a decoy or short route receiver until late in the game where they will go deep to the Freak again. If the game is tight late (and it will be) the Niners will need Moss fresh against the Vikings' secondary, but mark my words, he will find the end zone this week.

It all comes down to the kicking game

So far this season there have been reasons to cheer and cheer loudly for both veteran kicker David Akers and for Vikings' rookie Blair Walsh. Akers bonked a 63-yarder off the cross bar and over against the Packers in Week 1, while the Blair Walsh Project hit a 55-yarder in his rookie debut to help his team get to overtime against the Jags, and the eventual game winner in overtime.

Both of these teams are built to play in close games, and the outcome of this game certainly could come down to the kicker that doesn’t make a mistake. That includes kickoffs as well as field goals. 

The Vikings' kick returner, Percy Harvin ,is a threat to score every time that he touches the ball, so Akers will certainly try to put the ball through the end zone on every kick off, and Walsh will follow suit against the 49ers' solid special teams players.

In the end, this game will be a close one, and my bold prediction is that a Blair Walsh field goal is the difference in the end and the Vikings squeak out a win by three points at home.



GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Red Sox nearly had serious catcher emergency in loss to Tigers

Ohio State DL Dylan Thompson ineligible for season

Roger Federer will miss Olympics, U.S. Open with knee injury

Seahawks extend Pete Carroll through 2019

LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye releases first statement following car crash

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Brock Osweiler could have made more money staying with Broncos

Andrew Luck: Feels `as good as I've ever felt` for training camp

Amar'e Stoudemire announces retirement after signing one-day contract with Knicks

Report: Gregory failed multiple drug tests since suspension

Olympian Abby Johnston: Worst thing about Olympic village is no Pokemon

Reggie Bush reportedly closing in on contract with Bills

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

Report: Paul Pierce to return to Clippers

Jimbo Fisher: You come to FSU to win national championships

Andre Johnson worked out for Tennessee Titans

Shattenkirk for Krejci trade rumor still floating around

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman denies link to C.T.E.

Michael Vick: Cam Newton can’t beat me in 40-yard dash

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

Odell Beckham Jr. says Giants will play in Super Bowl LI

Iowa researchers say they can optimize Monday Night Football ratings with scheduling

Terrelle Pryor can visit Ohio State as five-year ban comes to a close

Rudy Gay admits to having ‘no idea’ about what the Kings are doing

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker