Minnesota – The Perfect Test?

We shouldn't be surprised Chiefs Head Coach Todd Haley wants his starters to play a full half against the Minnesota Vikings tonight. Likely, it's the stiffest, most telling competition they'll face until they play the New York Giants in Week 4 this season.

Even without star defensive end Jared Allen in the lineup (due to a sprained ankle), the Vikings might be the perfect test for Haley's fledgling group of young, up-and-coming Chiefs. With the addition of Brett Favre, Minnesota's stacked starting lineup becomes even more imposing.

For instance, we saw the Chiefs run the ball with some degree of effectiveness last week. Both Jackie Battle and Dantrell Savage ripped off nice gains behind the first and second-team offensive lines. Apart from Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City's passing game looked atrocious, but there was enough of a glimmer from the running game to give fans hope.

Now the Chiefs face Pat and Kevin Williams, and arguably the NFL's best run defense. The Vikings held opponents to just 76.9 rushing yards per game last season, and only 3.3 yards per carry. The Chiefs will find out quickly if Mike Goff, Rudy Niswanger and Brian Waters can handle the "The Williams Wall." If there's little space for Larry Johnson, the running game may need some more work.

How about pass protection? Even without Allen's presence, the Vikings will have a loud crowd thanks to Favre's timely arrival. If the Chiefs decide to start Barry Richardson at right tackle – and he's practiced with the first-team this week – we'll see just how well he handles the Metrodome's infamous crowd noise.

We also can't forget the pass-rush pressure Kevin Williams (8.5 sacks last season) is capable of supplying. Niswanger was pushed around a bit last week against the Texans – how will he handle a Pro Bowler? Here's a scary thought – last week the Vikings got to Peyton Manning three times in just five dropbacks.

When the Chiefs' are on defense, obviously Adrian Peterson will present a huge threat. If Clancy Pendergast has made any inroads at all towards fixing KC's run defense (30th in 2008), we'll see it against the Vikings. Even when Peterson leaves the game, the Vikings have depth with Chester Taylor. Can Ron Edwards, who was mostly dominated against the Texans last week, handle the nose tackle position?

And then of course, there's Favre himself. The Vikings' passing game wasn't an especially huge threat with Sage Rosenfels under center. But Favre? He'll make the most of Bernard Berrian's deep speed – do the Chiefs have a corner who can run with Berrian? We've seen Favre toast Bernard Pollard and Jarrad Page before (think back to 2007, Packers vs. Chiefs, Arrowhead Stadium). Are they ready for his long-range cannon?

Perhaps the most important test will be just how effective Pendergast's blitzes are against Favre, who is not known as a player who is prone to taking sacks. The Chiefs picked up a pair of sacks last week against the Texans – will they have the same luck tonight?

The tests even extend to special teams, where the Vikings have a great veteran punter in Chris Kluwe. As we saw last week, the Chiefs don't have much at all working in the return game. They won't have much of an opportunity to break out against Kluwe. If he hits a poor punt, someone – Rodney Wright, perhaps - has to take advantage.

As if all that wasn't enough, Favre's return means Kansas City will be in the spotlight. The news of his comeback hit fast and unexpectedly this week. Are the Chiefs fully prepared for the situation they're walking into? It's just a preseason game. But as preseason games go, it's a big one. The Chiefs will be tested, and we'll have a much better idea where the 2009 edition stands after the Vikings get through with them.

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