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Friday, November 14, 2008
Audibles: NFC South Week 11 preview


Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Minnesota Vikings (5-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3), 1 p.m. ET

Cadillac Williams' return to the active roster drew a lot of attention in Tampa this week. But Williams might end up being the most insignificant running back in Raymond James Stadium on Sunday.

If he plays at all, Williams' role will be limited. The story here is Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson against Tampa Bay's defense. Coordinator Monte Kiffin is going to have to pull out all of his tricks to find a way to slow Peterson. If that means putting the game in the hands of quarterback Gus Frerotte, the Bucs will take their chances.

But Tampa Bay has to counter with some sort of running game of its own to help keep Peterson off the field. That could be a little dicey because Earnest Graham and Warrick Dunn are banged up. Both should be able to play, but even healthy backs have a tough time running against Minnesota's front four.

Detroit Lions (0-9) at Carolina Panthers (7-2), 1 p.m. ET

Judging by the reaction in Charlotte, you would think the Panthers lost to Oakland. That's not the case. They just played a horrible game and were lucky it came against one of the league's worst teams.

Now, they get a team that might be even worse and they get them at home. You don't get points for style in the NFL, but it is important for the Panthers to come out and show that last week was nothing more than a blip.

This team has a rough schedule coming after this game and the Panthers need to head into that stretch with momentum. It would help a lot of quarterback Jake Delhomme can bounce back from an awful outing in Oakland and calm the fears in Charlotte.

Denver Broncos (5-4) at Atlanta Falcons (6-3), 1 p.m. ET

There's been a lot of talk about the challenge that Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and the Denver passing game presents for the Atlanta secondary.

That's a legitimate concern, but it's time to start realizing Atlanta has a good secondary. If last week's performance against New Orleans didn't convince you, the Falcons have another chance to make a huge statement against the Broncos.

Cornerback Chris Houston looks like he's breaking out right in front of us and former Bronco Domonique Foxworth will start on the other side and try to use some of the inside information he has on the Denver offense.

Houston and Foxworth will get plenty of help from emerging rookie Chevis Jackson and the underrated safety tandem of Lawyer Milloy and Erik Coleman.

New Orleans Saints (4-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-8), 1 p.m. ET

It's really tempting to write the Saints off and say their season is over. But you can't really do that right now.

Coach Sean Payton is getting destroyed by the fans in New Orleans, the defense is as bad as it was a year ago and everybody's second-guessing the trade for tight end Jeremy Shockey. But the fact is the Saints have a chance to get back to .500 against a bad team.

On the flip side, if the Saints find a way to lose this game, you officially can say their season is over.