The New England Patriots are looking for a win in Week 2, following one of the most surprising losses of the first NFL Sunday in 2014. This Sunday, they’ll visit the Minnesota Vikings, who are coming off the biggest victory of Week 1.
New England played the Miami Dolphins as a road favorite, but was upset 33-20. The Patriots took a 10-point lead into halftime, but the team was shut out in the final two quarters, allowing 23 unanswered points in the loss.
Tom Brady had one of the worst games of any starting quarterback, completing less than 52 percent of his passes for 249 yards and a touchdown, registering a 69.7 passer rating. The Patriots were also one of 12 teams in the opening week that failed to surpass the 100-yard rushing mark.
While New England had one of the most surprising losses in Week 1, Minnesota had one of the most impressive victories. On the road, they had the league’s biggest margin of victory with a 28-point win. The Vikings defense limited the Rams to 72 rushing yards and didn’t allow a touchdown.
Matt Cassel was very efficient, posting a 113.8 passer rating, after having thrown 27 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in the last three years. The Vikings won, even though Adrian Peterson’s effectiveness was limited with 75 yards on 21 carries.
New England cornerback Darrelle Revis will look to shut down Cordarelle Patterson, who totaled 128 yards in Week 1. He'll be ready to go after leaving last week's game with a cramp.
For a second straight week, the Patriots are expected to win on the road. The betting line at Las Vegas casinos has them set as three-point favorites with an over/under of 49 total points. New England has a strong chance of beating the team that won just five games in 2013, but the Vikings match up well against them in certain areas.
Against St. Louis, Minnesota scored 34 points, behind a mediocre performance from Peterson. The star running back could have a big game on Sunday, considering the Patriots let Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller total 193 rushing yards on 5.4 yards per carry.
In addition to their advantage on the ground, the Vikings might not have much trouble putting pressure on Brady. The quarterback was constantly pressured in the second half of New England’s opener, keeping the Patriots off the scoreboard. Brady was sacked four times.
“In this game we planned on playing all of our linemen, which we did,” head coach Bill Belichick said on Monday. “We used four guys to play three positions inside. I think they all played well and deserved to play, so I played them. I would say we didn’t really have a lot communication issues ... we had more fundamental and technique breakdowns – an assortment of mental errors. I don’t think it was a game where there was a lot of missed assignments. It was more, I would say, a lack of execution of good fundamentals.”
Minnesota’s defensive front was the best in Week 1, leading the NFL with five sacks. The team got contributions from four different players, including Everson Griffen, who recorded two sacks.
Prediction: The Patriots have some holes, and the game could be a close one. While the Minnesota’s rushing attack and defensive line could give New England trouble, the Patriots should be improved in Week 2. Rob Gronkowski is healthy, despite being limited in practice this week, and could find his way into the end zone a few times. Cassel isn’t likely to play as well as he did in the opener.
Predicted Score: New England 24, Minnesota 17