The Minnesota Vikings play their first post-Metrodome home game against the New England Patriots in Week 2. The two teams play because it is the AFC East Division’s turn to face the NFC North.
2013 Record: 12-4 (First in the AFC East)
2013 Offensive Statistics: 27.8 points scored per game, 384.5 total offensive yards per game, 129.1 rushing yards per game, 255.4 passing yards per game, 20 turnovers
2013 Defensive Statistics: 21.1 points allowed per game, 373.1 total offensive yards allowed per game, 134.1 rushing yards allowed per game, 239.0 passing yards allowed per game, 29 turnovers forced, 48 sacks
Head Coach: Bill Belichick (15th season in New England)
Key Returning Offensive Players: WR Danny Amendola, QB Tom Brady, WR Julian Edelman, TE Rob Gronkowski, G Logan Mankins, RB Stevan Ridley, OT Nate Solder, RB Shane Vereen, OT Sebastian Vollmer
Key Returning Defensive Players: LB Jamie Collins, CB Alfonzo Dennard, LB Dont’a Hightower, DE Chandler Jones, LB Jerod Mayo, DB Devin McCourty, DE Rob Ninkovich, DL Vince Wilfork
Free Agent Additions: CB Brandon Browner, S Patrick Chung, LS Charley Hughlett, LB Josh Hull, WR Brandon LaFell, CB Darrelle Revis, DE Will Smith
Draft Picks: Round 1, Pick 29 – Dominique Easley, DT, Florida; Round 2, Pick 62 – Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois; Round 4, Pick 105 Bryan Stork, C, Florida State; Round 4, Pick 130 – James White, RB, Wisconsin; Round 4, Pick 140 – Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford; Round 6, Pick 179 – Jon Halapio, G, Florida; Round 6, Pick 198 – Zach Moore, DE, Concordia-St. Paul (MN); Round 6, Pick 206 – Jemea Thomas, S, Georgia Tech; Round 7, Pick 244 – Jeremy Gallon, WR, Michigan
Outlook: The Patriots are still the class of the AFC East, but they are not as formidable as they once were. The last time the Vikings and Patriots faced was in 2010 when BenJarvus Green-Ellis scored a pair of touchdowns to give the Patriots a 10-point victory.
The Patriots still have a lot of the key players from that team on the roster, but they are four years older and not as effective as they once were.
Since injuring his knee in 2008, Brady threw for his second fewest yardage total, fewest touchdowns, third most interceptions while posting his worst completion percentage, QBR and rating. He did not have two of the best receiving weapons with Wes Welker playing elsewhere and Rob Gronkowski hurt most of the year.
Their high draft picks (first, second and third rounds) haven’t met expectations yet. The biggest problem surrounding the Patriots is their lack of playmakers on both sides of the ball.
Brady and Gronkowski are the lone proven weapons on offense. Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen are emerging at running back. The two projected starters on offense (Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman) are under 6-feet tall and not downfield threats. They are hoping second-year receivers Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson or free agent signee Brandon LaFell can stretch the defense.