Bedard: This group will decide the Patriots’ fate vs. the Vikings

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(Adam Richins for BSJ)

FOXBOROUGH — This game is going to be a tough matchup for the Patriots' offense.

Between Mike Zimmer's smarts and the collection of talent on that side of the ball, the Vikings are going to give Tom Brady and Co. issues at times in this afternoon's game.

Minnesota may not be quite the same unit as a year ago — mostly because Everson Griffen (personal issues) and Anthony Barr (hamstring) have not played up to their usual elite status — but the potential is there and they don't usually beat themselves, which makes for more of a grind-it-out mode for the Patriots' offense.

That's why the Patriots are going to need the defense to play how they have most of the time at home. Even with the 40 points allowed to the Chiefs, New England has allowed a respectable 22 points per game at home. Toss that game out, and it's 17.

Overall, since the Bears game, the Patriots' defense has allowed 17.5 points per game — even with the disappointing 34-point effort against the Titans.

So the potential is there for Patriots' defense, which has at times received a bum rap, to do their part and help deliver a big victory.

For that to happen, one group is going to have to dominate this game: