Vikings-Bills game plan

The Vikings want to establish the run under Leslie Frazier, but that's even more in play going against the league's worst run defense. Plus, get some of the matchups to watch in Sunday's game.

VIKINGS

The Vikings have established that they will be a grounded team with Leslie Frazier as their coach, and that certainly would be a good plan this week given the Bills have the NFL's worst run defense.

Brett Favre is coming off only his second game this season in which he did not throw an interception, and the Bills will be hard-pressed to jump any routes if Favre is handing the ball to Adrian Peterson or Toby Gerhart.

Peterson's status for the game could be in doubt after he suffered a sprained ankle in the second quarter last Sunday against Washington, but he tested it Friday with encouraging results. Favre could take a few down-the-field shots for Sidney Rice off play-action if things set up right.

The Vikings got a strong performance from their offensive line against Washington, but left guard Steve Hutchinson figures to be at far less than 100 percent after fracturing his thumb. Ryan Cook has taken over for the injured Anthony Herrera as the starter at right guard.

The Bills' passing offense is ranked 23rd in the NFL, but it's likely that quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will take some shots against a Vikings secondary that has had its issues this season.

Fitzpatrick is tied for ninth in the NFL with 19 touchdown passes. Buffalo's leading wide receiver, Steve Johnson, is tied for third in the league with nine touchdown receptions.

The Vikings' run defense was extremely stout last Sunday against Washington, and if the Bills attempt to keep it on the ground it could turn out to be a long day.

BILLS

The tenacious Bills would like nothing better than to make it an AFC East sweep over the Vikings, who have lost to the Dolphins, Jets and Patriots already. Minnesota has been beaten up physically and mentally but eked out a 17-13 win over Washington last week for interim coach Leslie Frazier, who replaced the fired Brad Childress. There is still chatter about making the playoffs and it starts with a three-game home stand starting with Buffalo.

With QB Brett Favre struggling with 10 TDs vs. 17 interceptions, stopping Minnesota's No. 10 running game and forcing Favre to beat them isn't a bad strategy for the Bills, who are expecting Adrian Peterson (sprained ankle) to play.

Minnesota remains very stout defensively, ranking fifth against the run and ninth in total yardage. The team needs a big game out of RB Fred Jackson. If Buffalo can establish a ground game, it would take pressure off QB Ryan Fitzpatrick in what figures to be a very challenging — and loud — road contest. Buffalo would catch a break if DE Ray Edwards (5.5 sacks, bad ankle) can't go.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

Vikings CB Asher Allen vs. Bills WR Steve Johnson. It would make sense that Buffalo would try to get Johnson matched up against Allen in this game. Johnson also could find himself going against either Lito Sheppard or Frank Walker at the left corner when Minnesota plays in its nickel defense. Johnson leads the Bills with 59 receptions for 796 yards and nine touchdowns and should be allowed to play a big role in this game after having a key drop of a potential game-winning catch last Sunday against Pittsburgh.

Vikings C John Sullivan vs. Bills NT Kyle Williams. Williams leads the Bills with five sacks this season from the interior and will be head-up against Sullivan. The Bills play a 3-4 defense, so the guards might have to offer some assistance to the tackles, meaning there are times Sullivan could be left alone against Williams. The Vikings have seen their share of 3-4 defenses, so many of the things the Bills try to do should look familiar.

OTHERS:

  • Bills RB Fred Jackson, who has a touchdown in four consecutive games, vs. Vikings No. 5 run defense, led by ex-Bill Pat Williams and Kevin Williams.

  • Bills LT Demetrius Bell vs. Vikings RDE Jared Allen, who has a sack in four consecutive games and 7.5 on the year.

  • Bills NT Kyle Williams, who leads the Bills with five sacks and is third in tackles with 60, vs. Vikings Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson, who has been fitted with a heavy cast to protect a broken thumb.

  • Bills special teams vs. Vikings KR Percy Harvin, who is the only player in the league this season with a rushing, receiving and return TD. He's averaging 23.3 yards on 40 kickoff returns.


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