Can the Vikings be successful with a run-first game plan? If they can control one Bills defender, it will make it a lot easier. Get fast facts, keys to the game and notes from the Vikings and Bills.
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San Francisco 49ers
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New York Jets
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Buffalo Bills (2-9) at Minnesota Vikings (4-7)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
SURFACE: Field Turf
TV: CBS, Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots
KEYS TO THE GAME
A basic game plan worked for the Vikings last week, mostly because QB Brett Favre
didn't force the ball into tight windows and backup RB Toby Gerhart
stepped up with Adrian Peterson
(ankle) out. Peterson is likely to be a game-time decision, but the Vikings will find room to run if they can uproot Bills NT Kyle Williams
Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
and RB Fred Jackson
have combined to balance the offense and the Vikings are vulnerable in the back seven. What's more, the Vikings' kick coverage has leaks, and explosive rookie C.J. Spiller
is back from a hamstring injury for Buffalo.
FAST FACTSBills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has a touchdown pass in 12 straight games.
Vikings DE Jared Allen has 6.5 sacks in his past four games.
RB Adrian Peterson has reached 1,000 yards rushing for the fourth consecutive season, tying Robert Smith for the most career 1,000-yard seasons and the most consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in Vikings history.
Peterson has not had a fumble this season and now has 259 touches without losing the football. His last lost fumble came on Dec. 28, 2009, at Chicago. Peterson had seven fumbles and lost six last season.
DE Jared Allen has 79.5 sacks since entering the NFL in 2004, which ranks fifth among all NFL players for the most in the first seven seasons. Allen surpassed Bruce Smith's 78 in seven seasons.
LB E.J. Henderson has three interceptions this year, and he needs two more to tie Rip Hawkins (1961) for the most interceptions by a Vikings linebacker in a single season.
Former Vikings running back Chuck Foreman set a team single-game record with four touchdowns (two receiving, two rushing) in a 35-13 victory on Dec. 20, 1975 at Buffalo. Foreman established a team record with 22 touchdowns on the season.
Vikings DT Kevin Williams had eight tackles (seven solo and three for a loss) in a loss to the Bills on Oct. 1, 2006. Williams had a sack and a pass deflection as well.
The Bills beat the Vikings 45-39 in overtime on Sept. 15, 2002, at the Metrodome, tying the score as time expired in regulation with a field goal and then winning on a Drew Bledsoe touchdown pass with 4 minutes, 48 seconds left in overtime.
The Vikings are 75-75 in 150 all-time regular season games against the AFC.
The Bills will have to fight the urge to ask Vikings QB Brett Favre for his autograph after this game. The 41-year-old, 20-year NFL veteran swears this is his last season meaning he's entering the final month of his career. Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, 27, said he modeled some of his go-for-broke style after the gunslinging Favre.
"As most young guys did aspiring to be quarterbacks, he's a guy that you grow up idolizing really, the things that he's been able to do," Fitzpatrick said. "The things I've always loved about him are his toughness, his ability to make plays, not out there playing scared but he's out there throwing the ball around trying to make plays. He was a guy that I always looked up to growing up and just watching him. He's been one of my favorite players for a long time."
CB Antoine Winfield and DT Pat Williams, two popular former Bills who left after the 2003 season to join the Vikings, are still enjoying productive seasons. WR Lee Evans has a healthy dose of respect for Winfield, one of the NFL's most tenacious tacklers. He's third on the Vikings with 62 tackles this season to go with one interception. Getting a helmet on Winfield every play will be important if Buffalo hopes to run the ball vs. the NFL's No. 5 run defense.
"He's been playing at a high level for a long time and he not only plays well in the passing game but also in the running game," Evans said. "You really have to play a full game playing against him because he'll come up and beat your backs up. He's not afraid to come up and make hits, so you really have to try and keep a body on him and keep him off your backs when you run the ball."
Buffalo is the only team with three overtime losses this year; Green Bay is next with two. The New York Jets and Pittsburgh are 2-0. Entering this season, Buffalo had the NFL's second-best overtime record at 18-9 (.667). The only team with a better winning percentage in OT was Jacksonville (.700; 7-3 record).
Fitzpatrick had little comment on the hit he took from Steelers linebacker James Harrison last Sunday, a leading-with-the-helmet blow that earned Harrison a $25,000 fine this week from the NFL. The Pro Bowler has been fined four times this season for a total of $125,000. Harrison was flagged for roughing the passer and three plays later Fitzpatrick threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to running back Fred Jackson.
"It certainly got me gazing at stars in my head, but I think it got the guys up front charged up a little bit," Fitzpatrick said.