Vikings-Chiefs Game Plan

It will be strength on strength Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, as the Chiefs try to get their once-impressive running attack going against the Vikings' still-impressive run defense. Plus, get several intriguing matchups to watch and the injury impact for this interconference game.


The Vikings defense certainly was happy to get out of Detroit. Lions offensive coordinator Mike Martz, knowing the Vikings were tied for last in 2006 in pass defense and with an arsenal of quality receivers, spread Minnesota out for much of the game. Lions quarterbacks Jon Kitna and J.T. O'Sullivan put the ball in the air a combined 56 times (accounting for 393 passing yards) and Detroit only tried to run the ball 21 times.

This left Pro Bowl defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams and a Vikings run defense that ranked No. 1 in the NFL last season without much work to do.

That certainly won't be the case against Kansas City. The Chiefs rely on standout running back Larry Johnson and will have to test the Vikings on the ground.

The Vikings are looking forward to it. "If a team wants to come in and try to run the ball on us, we feel like we're very confident in our rush defense," safety Darren Sharper said.

It's a tired theme but the Vikings offense is going to need to prove it can score points on a consistent basis. The possible return of running back Chester Taylor would mean the Vikings will get their first opportunity to utilize the one-two attack of Taylor and rookie Adrian Peterson.

Taylor went out in the first quarter of the season opener against Atlanta. While this could prove to be a dangerous combination, it would be that much more effective if the Vikings can throw the ball down field and stretch the Chiefs defense.

This might not be a simple task, considering Kansas City's pass defense is ranked sixth in the NFL through two games. Its rushing defense is 15th.


  • Vikings MLB E.J. Henderson vs. Chiefs MLB Napoleon Harris. Henderson has taken over as the Vikings middle linebacker as Harris is now playing that position for the Chiefs. Henderson will get to show his former teammate just how much he is missed, or not missed, as he focuses on helping to shut down a Kansas City ground attack, led by running back Larry Johnson. Johnson has only 98 yards (3.8 avg.) through two games this season but considering he went for 1,789 last season, it's probably a matter of time before he has a breakout game. Henderson's run support behind Pro Bowl tackles Kevin and Pat Williams will be extremely important. Henderson could have a busy day, considering he also is going to have to concern himself with Chiefs Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez.

  • Vikings RT Ryan Cook vs. Chiefs LDE Tamba Hali. Cook struggled against the Lions' Dwayne White and he won't have it any easier when he faces Hali, who had eight sacks a year ago and forced six fumbles in 16 games. Cook had holding and false-start penalties called against him in Detroit and likely will have a tough time avoiding the latter infraction in another loud environment in Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium. Cook, a natural center, seems to struggle in this area. As for keeping Hali in check, Cook could get blocking help from guard Artis Hicks. The Vikings line did not have a very good game versus Detroit and will try to atone for that in this matchup.

  • WR Robert Ferguson vs. Chiefs secondary. It isn't so much that Ferguson poses any great threat to the Kansas City secondary but rather the fact that the Vikings tried so hard to get him the ball throughout the afternoon in Detroit. That marked Ferguson's regular-season debut with the Vikings. While he caught only three passes for 29 yards, he was the intended receiver on eight occasions. This included two Tarvaris Jackson passes that were intercepted. The Chiefs, no doubt, will take notice of the fact that Ferguson appears to be a primary target for Vikings quarterbacks. Part of the reason for this might be because Ferguson came from Green Bay and is a veteran of the West Coast system. In other words, his route running is more precise than some of the other receivers.

  • Vikings DTs Kevin Williams and Pat Williams vs. Chiefs Gs Brian Waters and John Welbourn. The Vikings' first pair of Pro Bowl DTs since Alan Page and Gary Larsen face a solid Chiefs interior, with capable C Casey Wiegmann available to help to either side.

    Chiefs DE Jared Allen vs. Vikings LT Bryant McKinnie. KC's best pass rusher returns from a two-game suspension and faces a player against whom he had some limited success during a training camp workout.


    If Jackson is unable to go (he is doubtful), it will be either Brooks Bollinger or Kelly Holcomb at quarterback. It's not certain who would start, but most figure on Holcomb starting, although Bollinger has been the No. 2 quarterback in the first two games and came in during overtime at Detroit after Jackson was hurt. It might not help Bollinger's cause that he proceeded to fumble a snap that led to the Lions' winning drive. Running back Chester Taylor could return after missing a game because of a hip injury. This would help to lessen the workload on rookie Adrian Peterson and also would give the Vikings offense more potential weapons. Safeties Darren Sharper and Dwight Smith are both injured and listed as questionable, meaning Tank Williams and Mike Doss could see playing time. Defensive right end Erasmus James remained on the inactive list last Sunday as he recovers from a knee injury. It's unclear when James will be back; Ray Edwards, who has taken over as the starter at right end, had a big game in Detroit, getting 1.5 sacks and scoring a touchdown after recovering a fumble forced by Kevin Williams.

    For Kansas City, WR Eddie Kennison will miss a second straight game with a hamstring injury. LT Damion McIntosh saw the right knee he injured in training camp take some hits against Chicago, and he missed Wednesday's practice. He is considered probable. Backup safety Greg Wesley (knee) did not work Wednesday, but is expected to play. S John McGraw (hamstring) took full reps in Wednesday's workout and should be available for the first time as a Chief against Minnesota.

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