Vikings-Chiefs Preview

BY foxsports • September 28, 2011

While the Minnesota Vikings have held double-digit leads in the second half of every game, the Kansas City Chiefs have not led at any point.

Both teams, though, are 0-3 and in danger of seeing their seasons slip away as Kansas City hosts Minnesota on Sunday.

The Vikings, seeking to avoid their first 0-4 start since 2002, have led by at least 10 points at halftime in each contest. Their biggest blown lead came last Sunday, ahead 20-0 at the half in Detroit only to fall 26-23 in overtime.

Minnesota has outscored opponents 54-7 in the first half but has been on the short end of a 67-6 score in the second half and overtime.

"We have to finish teams off," coach Leslie Frazier said. "I don't necessarily know it's a killer instinct that we need as much as when you have the opportunity to make plays on offense, defense, special teams, make those plays (and) play smart football."

Kansas City, meanwhile, hasn't even had a lead to work with. The Chiefs, who started 3-0 last year en route to winning the AFC West, are at risk of their second 0-4 start in three years. They've given up an NFL-high 109 points and have scored a league-low 27.

Matt Cassel was intercepted in the final minute to end Kansas City's comeback attempt last week in a 20-17 loss to San Diego. The Chiefs were held to 34 total yards in the first half while failing to record a first down.

"Obviously this one hurts more than I would say the other two do just because I thought our team battled out there," said Cassel, whose 65.5 passer rating is the NFL's worst of any current starter.

Coach Todd Haley was pleased with his team's improvement after being blown out the first two games. The Chiefs won the turnover battle 2-to-1 after losing it by a 9-to-2 margin through Weeks 1 and 2.

"All week we knew we had to play significantly better," Haley said. "And in a couple of key areas we did a bunch of that. And that's why you saw the game close there at the end with a possession and a chance to either tie or win the game. That was our goal as a team, to take a step. I thought we did that."

The Chiefs' 28th-ranked run defense now must make its goal to slow down Adrian Peterson.

Kansas City is allowing 123.0 rushing yards per game, while Peterson is averaging 98.7 for Minnesota's third-ranked rushing attack (159.0 ypg).

Peterson ran for 78 yards and a touchdown against Detroit, though he had only five yards on five rushes in the second half. Frazier admitted he must make sure to keep getting his star running back carries regardless of the game situation.

"Even if Adrian is stopped for a negative gain ... because they have so many people at the line of scrimmage, he is such a great player that even against eight-man fronts he can still make something happen," Frazier said.

The pressure may be even heavier on Peterson given the struggles of Donovan McNabb. He's completing 58.0 percent of his throws to rank 24th in the league and his 478 passing yards rank 30th - one spot ahead of Cassel.

McNabb, though, has a 106.7 passer rating in two career starts against Kansas City, which struggled to run the ball last week in its first full game since losing All-Pro Jamaal Charles to a season-ending injury.

The Chiefs averaged 3.0 yards per rush as Dexter McCluster and Thomas Jones took the bulk of the carries. They may have just as tough a time against a Vikings defense allowing 67.3 rushing yards per game to rank fourth in the NFL.

"With Jamaal not in the mix, it presents a lot of challenges," Haley said. "That being said, I like our guys. I like our backs. I believe we're going to have a good running team."

The Chiefs may be without cornerback Brandon Flowers, who hurt his knee while returning an interception against San Diego.

Minnesota has lost all three of its visits to Kansas City since winning its first one in 1974.



share story