Fresh off an impressive season debut, the Minnesota Vikings have their sights set on sending the New England Patriots to their first 0-2 start in more than a dozen years.
They will be without Adrian Peterson for Sunday's home opener, however, after the star running back has been indicted in Texas on a charge of child abuse.
An arrest warrant was issued Friday for Peterson after he was accused of using a branch to spank his son. Peterson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, said the six-time Pro Bowl selection will have to turn himself in and there is no timeline for when he will appear in Texas.
About an hour after issuing a statement acknowledging the case but deferring questions to Hardin, the Vikings announced he would be deactivated this weekend.
Peterson had 75 yards on 21 carries along with two catches for 18 yards in last Sunday's 34-6 win at St. Louis.
The Patriots built a 10-point halftime lead at Miami last week before giving up 23 unanswered points to fall 33-20 and lose a season opener for the first time since 2003.
"There was certainly an element in the second half that we'd love to stay away from," offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said.
New England last dropped its first two games of a season in 2001, when Tom Brady replaced an injured Drew Bledsoe in a Week 2 loss to the New York Jets.
Protecting Brady could go a long way in avoiding a repeat performance.
He was sacked four times while completing 29 of 56 passes for 249 yards with one touchdown against the Dolphins, who limited the Patriots to 67 of their 315 total yards in the second half.
Brady is trying to re-establish his rapport with Rob Gronkowski. The tight end returned from knee surgery in Week 1, catching four passes for 40 yards with a touchdown.
"We've gotta do a better job, in general - coaching, playing, managing the game and putting ourselves in better position than what we did offensively in the second half because we didn't do anything to help ourselves," McDaniels said.
The Vikings' defense likely won't make things easy on the Patriots after allowing a pair of field goals with two interceptions, five sacks and six forced punts against the Rams.
Minnesota hasn't opened a season with back-to-back wins since going 6-0 in 2009.
"We're facing a huge challenge this week," rookie coach Mike Zimmer said. "We're so far in the infancy stages of what we're trying to do in this program, that we want to go out and perform well each and every week. This is the process that we're trying to build here."
Matt Cassel is trying to build on his 17-for-25 effort for 170 passing yards and two TDs from last week, as he faces the Patriots for the first time since spending his first four seasons with them.
Like Brady, Cassel became notable due to an injury. He replaced an injured Brady in 2008 and went 10-5 as a starter that season, before spending the next four years in Kansas City.
Cassel feels his experience in New England and friendship with Brady are valuable.
"There's a number of different things I took away from Tom, but one of the main things was his leadership and how he approached his leadership, his work ethic," Cassel said. "And each and every day, his accountability to knowing the offense and being accountable."
Patriots coach Bill Belichick doesn't think there's any advantage in being familiar with Cassel.
"We know him. He knows us," Belichick said.
He's about to become familiar with Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota's electric wide receiver. He caught three passes for 26 yards against the Rams, but did the majority of his damage on the ground with 102 yards and a score on three carries.
"Patterson is obviously an explosive guy; you see that in the return game," Belichick said. "He's a deep threat. He's dangerous with the ball in his hand, whether they hand it to him or throw it on a short pass."
With Peterson out, Matt Asiata is expected to carry the workload as the Vikings' No. 1 running back. He had two carries for 10 yards last week and faces a Patriots team that gave up 191 rushing yards to the Dolphins with 126 coming in the second half.
Minnesota last faced the Patriots in 2010, losing 28-18 in New England.
The Patriots have won three straight in the series with Brady passing for eight touchdowns to one interception and compiling a QB rating of 110.7.