Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 10/1/11
By BRIAN HALL FOXSportsNorth.com EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. Adrian Peterson knows which team will win when the 0-3 Minnesota Vikings travel to face the 0-3 Kansas City Chiefs this weekend. Simply put, the more desperate team will finally notch its first win of 2011. Youve got two teams facing each other thats 0-3, Peterson said. Well see who wants to get the W the most. Quarterback Donovan McNabb said its a must-win attitude and approach. for the Vikings this week. If they can accomplish these five things, it will go a long way to finally snapping their losing streak. 1. Can the Vikings finally finish a game? The blown halftime leads have been well-documented. The Vikings have lost leads of 10, 17 and 20 points in the second half of their first three games. Minnesota seemed almost puzzled Sunday about how it happened for a third-straight game. If faced with another halftime lead, the Vikings will have to figure out how to sustain the lead. After facing potential playoff teams the first three weeks, maybe facing the Chiefs who have suffered as many key injuries as any team in the NFL offer the chance to hold a lead for good. 2. What will the Peterson Percentage be? Minnesota could drain more of the game clock if it was able to establish its power running game in the second halves. In last weeks overtime loss against Detroit though, Peterson only had five carries for five yards in the second half. Coach Leslie Frazier said the coaches have to remind themselves to keep using the Pro Bowl running back. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave has vowed to keep Peterson more involved. Peterson, always ready for a heavy workload, wants the carries. The Vikings havent talked about getting Peterson a certain number of carries in the same vein as the classic Randy Ratio for Randy Moss in the past, but expect Peterson to be involved early and often, and late. 3. Can McNabb be accurate enough to sustain drives? Minnesota coaches said they were going to work on Donovan McNabbs mechanics and technique this week, hoping to get more accuracy from the 13-year veteran. McNabb said he didnt need a change in his mechanics, but said he always looks at his game with a critical eye. McNabb needs to be more accurate for the Vikings to sustain drives. Minnesota is 1 of 15 on third downs in the second half of the three games and McNabb is just 9 of 24 passing on third downs, easily the worst percentage in the league. Minnesota will need to sustain drives to get Peterson more involved and chew up more of the game clock, but McNabb will have to be more accurate on third downs to make it happen. 4. Can the Vikings develop a deep threat? Receiver Bernard Berrian is considered Minnesotas one true deep threat, but he has just one catch for 17 yards through the first three games. Last week, Berrian was targeted four times, but went without a catch. Coming up with some kind of downfield threat would take the pressure off Peterson and allow him to see less eight- and nine-man fronts. Facing a packed line of scrimmage hasnt always been a problem for Peterson. His 46-yard run last week came against a loaded box. Coaches also said they have to stick with Peterson even if he gets stuffed for short gains. But a deep threat would keep some of the safeties away from the line of scrimmage and allow Peterson more room. 5. How much will Pro Bowl linebacker E.J. Henderson play? Middle linebacker E.J. Henderson has had continued soreness in his left knee, the result of having a metal rod placed in his leg after he broke his femur in 2009. Henderson has been limited in practices to rest the knee, which has bothered him since the first game of the season. Henderson admits hes been hobbled and not as explosive as in the past and agrees his workload might need to be limited to help ease the pain. Henderson is expected to play, but might not take as many snaps. Everson Griffen received time as a linebacker in some passing packages last week and Minnesota also used a dime package with Asher Allen on the field and Henderson on the sideline. There is likely to be some of the same on Sunday to save the wear and tear on Henderson. How the Vikings handle being without Henderson and how Henderson performs when on the field will be big factors Sunday, especially against Kansas Citys speedy back, Dexter McCluster.
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