Last week, I picked against my own team and paid for it — royally. The Patriots thrashed the Dolphins in Miami and finally proved they can win a significant game on the road. They then promptly shipped their star wide receiver to the Vikings, who conveniently find themselves right in the mix of our Prime Time Preview this week. For week five, we’re highlighting the Vikings trip to the New Meadowlands to take on the Jets as our marquee match-up.
For one, these are two of the better teams in the NFL, despite the Vikings slow start. More importantly — RANDY MOSS. Moss has returned to where he started his Hall of Fame career, only this time he joins Brett Favre. Favre always wanted to play with Moss and has finally gotten his wish. Whether or not the two will click is as good a side story as any you will see in the NFL this season.
1. Randy Moss and Brett Favre
Obviously we’re willing to give Moss and Favre some time to establish chemistry before jumping to conclusions, but how great is it that the first time they’ll be playing together is on a Monday night? It’s no secret that Moss loves a fresh start. He was excited to be joining the Patriots in 2007 and promptly rewrote the record books during that season. He seems even more excited to be returning to where it all began. Expect the Vikings to take some shots early and make their best effort at having Favre’s 500th career touchdown pass land in Moss’ hands.
2. Randy Moss vs. Darrelle Revis
Is it a cop out to include Randy Moss as two of the three things to watch for this game? No way. The story is almost bigger than the game itself, anyway. Darrelle Revis has managed to make it bigger. The banged up corner is still talking trash about Moss the same way he was when they faced each in the AFC East. Even though Moss burned him for a touchdown when the Patriots played the Jets week two, Revis says everyone knows Moss “put his foot on the brake in the second half.” If I had to guess, I’d say Moss will have the pedal to the metal from start to finish in New Jersey.
3. Will Adrian Peterson Benefit from the Deep Threat?
Again, this has something to do with Moss but oh well, it’s a rare week in the NFL. Even with Favre at the helm, the Vikings have leaned heavily on the run. Why shouldn’t they? They have the best back in the league at their disposal. However, teams will no longer be able to design their defensive game plans around Adrian Peterson. They have to worry just as much about Moss streaking down the field with an able quarterback ready to get him the ball. This week may not be the best indication of things to come when you consider New York’s defensive abilities, but the addition of Moss could lead to more room for A.P. That would make Minnesota extremely dangerous on offense.
Brett Favre is listed on the injury report with a sore right elbow but has been practicing in full all week. I wonder if he’ll play. Visanthe Shiancoe’s status is a bit up in the air as he’s been limited in practice with a hamstring injury. He’s been a favorite target of Favre’s this season and has been wide open on numerous plays. That should continue with the arrival of Moss, so the Vikings could certainly use him against the Jets.
The Jets seem to be getting a little healthier as the weeks go by, which is not great news for their opponents. Darrelle Revis has been practicing and showing no signs of being slowed by his hamstring injury. Considering all the garbage he’s been talking, we’re all thrilled to hear that. Calvin Pace, who has yet to play in 2010, has participated in practice all week and is set to make his season debut on Monday night. That should be a huge boost for the Jets front seven.
Although the Jets have one of the toughest defenses in the NFL, it’d be tough to not start Brett Favre and Randy Moss this week. Revis has always done a good job on Moss, but we’ll see how he does in his first game back against a rejuvenated No. 84. You have to get them in your lineups and take the risk this week. Adrian Peterson is a no-brainer as usual. Shiancoe is going to be tough to use because it’s a Monday night game. If he gets ruled out before game time or is put on a limited snap count, you’re screwed because everyone else has already played. I’d use another TE if you have one stashed away.
Mark Sanchez has been playing out of his mind, but I’m still not comfortable using him. He hasn’t faced a defense as good as Minnesota’s in a while and he’s due to come back to earth any time now. LaDainian Tomlinson has played himself into the must-start conversation even against a top-10 Vikings run defense. I still don’t trust any Jets wide receiver, but Braylon Edwards is clearly the one to play if you must. Dustin Keller has emerged as a top tight end and is Sanchez’s go-to guy, so I’d be rolling with him every week until he slows down.
All you’ll hear about leading up to this game is the return of Randy Moss. The Jets will probably feast on the fact that no one is talking about them. While I do expect some fireworks from Moss and Favre, I think New York is the better team. Couple that with the fact that the game is at the New Meadowlands and I think you have to give a slight edge to the Jets.