The preview stories appear to be very popular so let’s go with it a full two days before the season opener where the Vikings travel to San Diego.  As always I will highlight the 5 most important things in the game starting with the least important.

5. Explosive plays.  For the most part the Vikings need to stay in check, working their way (nickling and diming, if you will) down the field for them to be successful.  Vikings fans also have to assume that in order to be able to just chip away at their defense, they need a few big plays, particularly early, in order to keep the Chargers honest.  Most so than with Favre, who just threw it hard, McNabb has the arm strength to really send the ball down field.  If he can connect with a few of his receivers early, then it should help keep those safeties back for AP and the run game.

4. No Turnovers.  Sure, I could put this one and no injuries down every week.  That would make this preview blog a heck of a lot easier/pointless.  I’m putting it here because if you turn the ball over against say the Bengals or the Dolphins, you aren’t always allowing TDs, but if the Chargers are starting near midfield all game long they’ll put up lots of points.  With AP seeming to have fixed his fumblitis and McNabb being a smart veteran QB, this may not even be an issue, but it’s definitely something to be aware of.

3. Keep Phillip Rivers in check.  If Phillip Rivers gets set loose, watch for him to throw for 350+ yards.  The D-line needs to get pressure and if they don’t, unlike early last year, the team needs to blitz.

2. Control the line of scrimmage.  If the Vikings can do this on both sides of the ball they’ll come out with a win.  They need to hold upfront to give McNabb time and create holes for AP, and defensively as I just stated they need to get pressure on Rivers.  That won’t give him time to look at his many targets and will give the Vikings weaker secondary a better chance.

1. RUN THE BALL.  During the Favre Era the ball was thrown far too much.  The Vikings need to get back to old school football and run it down everyone’s throat.  Let AP be AP.  If he gets the kind of room and carriers that he wants, he will have a monster game and season.