Visiting the Vikings

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In case you've not watched a second of sports coverage in the last couple of months, future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre came out of retirement and signed with the Minnesota Vikings.

With that issue addressed, the Vikings have plenty of things going on that don't include a certain No. 4.

And the 49ers will have a number of players to gameplan for when they travel to the Midwest to take on the Vikings this Sunday at the Metrodome.

After two weeks, Minnesota has the NFC's top-ranked defense and the second-ranked rush offense. Considering the personnel the Vikings have on both sides of the ball, neither accomplishment is too farfetched.

With Favre in the fold, the pressure for the Vikings to return to the playoffs and make more late season noise is certainly an unavoidable aspect for them. Head coach Brad Childress brought Favre to help his team get a passing game started, but more importantly take the team to new heights.

Favre has held end of the bargain, leading Minnesota to a 2-0 record.

On Offense

At the moment, it won't be Favre who will take the Vikings as far they want to go. Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson is the focal point of Minnesota's offense and will remain so even when Favre gets his timing down with his new passing targets. The 6-1, 217-pound tailback leads the NFL in rushing with 272 yards on 40 carries and also has an NFL-best four touchdown runs.

Last week in the team's 27-13 road victory over the Detroit Lions, Peterson fumbled early in the game but rebounded to rush for 92 yards on 15 carries.

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So far, Peterson has been able to continue where he left off last season because of his amazing athletic abilities and the play of his offensive line. The left side of Minnesota's line is one of the best in the league with tackle Bryant McKinnie guard and Steve Hutchinson. Peterson has also enjoyed success rushing behind the right side of the line too, which includes rookie right tackle Phil Loadholt.

Loadholt, the Vikings second-round pick has helped in the run game, but has also struggled in pass protection. That's been the case as a whole, as Minnesota's offensive line has already surrendered seven sacks.

And while the blame for those sacks falls primarily on the linemen, Favre is culpable for them too.

The quarterback famous for his gunslinger mentality has yet to establish the Vikings passing game.

Through two games, Favre leads the NFL completing 77.1 percent of his passes, but has only completed 37 of those passes for 265 yards. His numbers are lower than usual because of his lack of deep passes.

Against the Lions, Favre completed 22-of-24 passes for nine yards or less, with Peterson and backup running back Chester Taylor as the beneficiaries of those passes.

But ideally, Favre would like to start airing the ball out to his speedy wideout targets in Bernard Berrian and the team's first-round pick, Percy Harvin. Berrian and Harvin have yet to catch a pass longer than 21 yards. But the duo has combined for 14 catches, 123 yards and two touchdowns.

In order for the Vikings offense to take them to where they want to go, big plays in the passing game are needed to offset opposing defenses attention towards Peterson. As long as teams won't have to worry about Minnesota's deep passes, Peterson will continue to see eight men close to the line of scrimmage looking to slow him down.

On Defense

A tumultuous offseason wasn't only associated with the Vikings offense.

It was quite a rocky summer for Minnesota's defense too.

Last season, starting defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams both were suspended four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy. But after a couple of months and a number of legal maneuvers, both were cleared to play before the start of the season.

With the services of the two massively talented run stoppers, the Vikings have the top-ranked defense in the NFC and the fourth-best in the NFL.

But it's not only the defensive tackles who are responsible for quieting the opposing team, inside linebacker E.J. Henderson has played a major role. He leads the team with 15 tackles.

Minnesota's rush defense is also aided by the efforts of their two starting defense ends, Jared Allen and Ray Edwards. Both have sacks already this season and both would like to improve on last season when they totaled 14.5 and 5.0 sacks respectively.

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On the outside, the Vikings also have talent in outside linebackers Ben Leber and Chad Greenway. Through two games, Greenway leads the Vikings with two interceptions. Leber and Greenway will have their hands full come Sunday when they will have to cover 49ers speedy tight end Vernon Davis.

But that assignment might also fall on the shoulders of the Vikings secondary.

On the back end, Minnesota is led by cornerback Antonie Winfield, who has 14 tackles, second most on the team. Opposite of Winfield is Cedric Griffin and behind them is free safety Madieu Williams and second-year strong safety Tyrell Johnson.

Surprisingly, the Vikings secondary has helped the team become the top-ranked defense in the NFC. Currently, Minnesota is allowing 157.5 passing yards per game, fifth-best in the NFL.

With talent on the defensive side of the ball, and an improving offense, the Vikings appear to be one of the top contenders to play in the Super Bowl.

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