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Instant Analysis: New England Patriots defeat Minnesota Vikings 30-7:
In a “throw-back” victory for the Patriots, turnovers created by the defense, a strong running game, and efficient passing led to a New England win 30-7 over the Vikings. The Patriots added consistent play on special teams and a big play to swing the game their way. Rather than the New England teams of the last five or six seasons, this game showed a Patriots team that had a solid game plan, controlled the line of scrimmage, and rode a strong defense to victory.

Last year the Denver Broncos had to wait until week eleven to face off with AFC West rival Kansas City. In 2014 the division rivalry starts early as the 0-1 Chiefs travel to Denver to face off against the 1-0 Broncos. The Chiefs opened the season up with a disappointing 26-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans. The Broncos took both meetings decisively last year and would like nothing better than to put the Chiefs in a 0-2 hole and grab some early breathing room in the division.

The Chiefs are just trying to hold things together after season-ending Achilles injuries to defensive end Mike Devito and linebacker Derrick Johnson. Kansas City had to sign former Broncos defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson to shore up the depth of the defensive line. Last week Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith looked shaky against the Titans defense. Smith completed just 19-of-35 passes for 202 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions and was also sacked four times throughout the ballgame.

Fresh off a disappointing season opener in Seattle in week one, the Green Bay Packers face another top defense of the NFL as the New York Jets travel to historic Lambeau Field in week two. They face a Jets squad that dominated the lowly Oakland Raiders in week one. The Jets defense beat-up Oakland’s rookie quarterback Derek Carr and only another multi-turnover performance by quarterback Geno Smith kept the Raiders in the game.

The Jets will find that Aaron Rodgers is a little more of a challenge to their aggressive defense.

The New England Patriots played one strong half on defense against Miami last week and put up 20 points in the first quarter. Unfortunately, the Patriots forgot to come out and play in the second half as Miami ran away with the game and sent New England home a loser on opening day. Now the Patriots travel to TCF Bank Stadium in Minnesota to face an impressive Vikings team that lit up St. Louis last week 34-6.

As New England attempts to even-up at 1-1 and not fall into an 0-2 hole in the standings, they face a difficult challenge in the surging Vikings. Here are three keys match-ups to watch for on Sunday which will be vital in determining who comes out on top:

Five Patriots players who need to step up in week two after disappointing performances in week one:

The 33-20 loss to the Dolphins on Sunday was a tale of two halves.

First, give credit to Miami defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle and the players on the field for the Dolphins. To say that the Patriots lost because they played poorly is a disrespect to the Dolphins defense and coaching staff. The Dolphins were playing with three backup linebackers, and both Dion Jordan, the third overall pick last year, and starting safety Reshad Jones were suspended for the game as well. What that defense did was nothing short of spectacular.

Also, give credit to Miami offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. Not because he incorporated a hurry-up offense and kick started quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but because he stuck with the game plan to run the ball against New England’s 3-4 defense despite being down 10 points at halftime. Miami running back Knowshon Moreno rushed for 68 third quarter yards and 91 overall in the second half of the game. Lamar Miller and Moreno ended up with a combined 35 rushes for 193 yards against the Patriots on Sunday.

All that said, here’s how the Patriots graded out this weekend:

Instant Analysis on the Miami Dolphins’ win over the New England Patriots on September 7, 2014. What went right for the Patriots & what went wrong.

The New England Patriots’ inactive list had some surprises…but none of them were named Brady or Gronkowski. Read the quick analysis of what the inactives mean for the game today…

The Saints have the Super Bowl in their view as they were aggressive in the offseason. Although they let Darren Sproles and Lance Moore go on offense and Malcolm Jenkins and Jabari Greer go on defense, they believe they upgraded the roster. Keep an eye on their new acquisitions as safety Jairus Byrd was brought in to pair with returning safety Rafael Bush and be key members of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s aggressive defense. The team also signed fullback Erik Lorig to jump-start the running game–but he will miss the game with an ankle injury–along with center Jonathan Goodwin and bringing back offensive tackle Zach Strief. In the NFL Draft, the Saints traded up in the first round to steal explosive wideout Brandin Cooks to add yet another a big-play threat for quarterback Drew Brees to add to his already potent passing attack.

The Saints have the Super Bowl in their view as they were aggressive in the offseason. Although they let Darren Sproles and Lance Moore go on offense and Malcolm Jenkins and Jabari Greer go on defense, they believe they upgraded the roster. Keep an eye on their new acquisitions as safety Jairus Byrd was brought in to pair with returning safety Rafael Bush and be key members of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s aggressive defense. The team also signed fullback Erik Lorig to jump-start the running game–but he will miss the game with an ankle injury–along with center Jonathan Goodwin and bringing back offensive tackle Zach Strief. In the NFL Draft, the Saints traded up in the first round to steal explosive wideout Brandin Cooks to add yet another a big-play threat for quarterback Drew Brees to add to his already potent passing attack.