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Patriots Keys to Victory: Week 8 vs. Vikings

Randy Moss will be looking to get some revenge against his old team on Sunday. (AP Photo/Andy King)

Sometimes it helps to be good and lucky. The Patriots (5-1) found that out last week, squeaking out a 23-20 victory over the hapless San Diego Chargers (2-5). A win is a win in the NFL, however, and the Patriots will take all the wins they can get in what is shaping up to be a highly competitive AFC.

The Pats are currently in good shape with an impressive 5-1 record, good enough for second-place in the AFC East. This week, they welcome the media storm that is Brett Favre and his underachieving Minnesota Vikings (2-4) to Gillette Stadium for a Halloween showdown.

Favre comes to town fresh off a 28-24 loss on Monday Night Football to his old team, the Green Bay Packers; a game in which he threw three interceptions and fractured his left heel and ankle.

The 41-year-old quarterback has been battered and bruised this season, but it appears he’s not going to let his injuries end his streak of 291 consecutive regular-season starts. He temporarily shed his walking boot on Thursday, and it appears he’ll be ready to go by Sunday.

“I wouldn’t put anything past me to be honest with you,” said Favre.

Coach Brad Childress said he “probably will” wait until the last hours before kickoff to decide if Favre will start.

The Patriots will also welcome back a familiar face on Sunday when wide receiver Randy Moss returns to Foxboro for the first time since being traded a little over three weeks ago. Moss tried to downplay his homecoming when asked by the Boston Herald how he felt leading up to the game.

“I don’t really have a feeling,” Moss said. “I’m just excited to be able to play football every week.”

Sure Randy, whatever you say.

Staying in front of Randy Moss

Randy Moss is acting like Sunday’s game against his former team is just another game, but he’s not fooling anyone with his comments. Moss will be intent on showing the Patriots they shouldn’t have traded him earlier this season.

Just as he did in New England for three seasons, Moss will look to go deep early and often. It will be the job of whoever is covering Moss, whether it’s Devin McCourty or Kyle Arrington, to stay behind him. Patrick Chung and Brandon Meriweather will also need to provide some help over the top from the safety position to ensure Moss doesn’t haul in a long touchdown pass.

In three games with the Vikings, Moss has 12 receptions for 166 yards and two touchdowns. The numbers aren’t outstanding by any means, but count on Moss to be better acclimated with the offense in his fourth game with Minnesota.

And count on the Patriots’ defensive backs being aware of Moss’s extra-motivation on Sunday.

Protecting Tom Brady

Pat Williams and Kevin Williams give the Vikings perhaps the best interior defensive line in the NFL. Pat is 6 ft. 3, 317 lbs., while Kevin is listed at 6 ft. 5, 311 lbs. Running at those two monsters is going to be tough. Look for the Tom Brady and the Patriots to air it out rather than beat their heads against the wall trying to run the ball.

The better match up for the Pats is in the passing game, where I think they can have success, if they can protect Brady.

Vikings defensive ends Jared Allen and Ray Edwards have combined for just 2.5 sacks this season, but they still present a serious threat coming off the edge. The two combined for 23.0 sacks in 2009, and will be looking to get back on track in a must-win game this weekend.

It will be up to right tackle Nick Kaczur and left tackle Matt Light to give Brady time in the pocket. They’ll certainly have their hands full with Edwards and Allen.

Prediction: Patriots 24-14

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