Saturday, July 23, 2016

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

At 8-3, the Minnesota Vikings are the surprise team in the NFC and a legitimate threat to claim the NFC North division title. With the league’s second-best scoring defense and Mike Zimmer’s steady hand leading the ship, Minnesota has — at the very least — a 90 percent probability to reach the postseason.

When the Vikings lost to the San Francisco 49ers to open the season, a playoff berth appeared unlikely. The defense couldn’t stop the run, Adrian Peterson ran like a 30-year-old running back, and the offensive line looked lost without John Sullivan and Phil Loadholt. Mike Zimmer’s team lacked an identity early on, but they’ve slowly established themselves as one of the NFL’s most physical, technically sound teams on both sides of the ball.

As I’ve written these “What Went Right” pieces, I’ve noticed a consistent pattern. When the Vikings win, it’s because of the defense and the legs of Adrian Peterson. Specifically, the defense plays with discipline, filling run gaps correctly, tackling in space, and preventing big plays down the field. On offense, Minnesota wins when they unleash Peterson, who has at least 19 carries in every Vikings victory this season. Any less, and they’ve gone on to lose.

While the defense created turnovers against Atlanta in Week 12, it was Peterson who powered Minnesota to victory. This Sunday, when the Vikings host the Seattle Seahawks, he’ll need to do the same against an aggressive, stout run defense that hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher all season.

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(image courtesy of vikings.com)
Vikings Injury Report
NamePositionInjuryWed.Thur.Fri. Status
Joseph, LinvalDTFootDNPDNPDNPOUT
Sendejo, AndrewSKneeDNPDNPDNPOUT
Barr, AnthonyLBHand/groinLimitedDNPLimitedQuestionable
Smith, HarrisonSKneeLimitedLimitedLimitedQuestionable
Blanton, RobertSAnkleFullFullFullProbable
Waynes, TraeCBAnkleFullFullFullProbable

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Chad Greenway Walter Payton Man of the Year

During the fourth quarter of the Vikings matchup against the St. Louis Rams in Week 9, Minnesota linebacker Audie Cole attempted to tackle Rams rookie running back Todd Gurley. Cole did not make the tackle and that play would be his last of the season with the Vikings.

Cole fractured his ankle during the play when his Minnesota teammate Chad Greenway landed on it after being pushed by a St. Louis blocker. The Vikings, who were already without rookie linebacker Eric Kendricks due to a rib injury, had to quickly figure out who would fill Cole’s vacant spot in the lineup.

Having never played middle linebacker in his ten year career in Minnesota, Greenway seemed like the perfect solution. Wait, what?

However, when his name was called, Greenway did not hesitate for a second and gladly filled in for Cole at middle linebacker for the remainder of the game. This ‘team first’ mentality is the kind that Greenway has worn on his sleeve throughout the 2015 season.

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The playoffs start NOW for the Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings as the remaining schedule features zero easy games starting with Sunday as we welcome the Seattle “Bad Defense and Balling Offense” Seahawks into The Bank.

Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL) makes his weekly pit stop to discuss how the Purple can prevail over the Blueish-Neon Green and make a push for the 2-seed. We also chat about Warren Moon’s thoughts on Teddy Bridgewater, how Mike Zimmer plans to corral Russel Wilson, Harrison Smith or Earl Thomas/Kam Chancellor, if the Vikings offense is turning into the 2012 Adrian Peterson Offense, and we predict NFL coaching changes just for the LOLs.

All that and other “Jarius Wright is no Markus Wheaton” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

Read all of Arif’s stuff at The Daily Norseman and Vikings Journal as well as listen to his podcast Norse Code.

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(image courtesy of Vikings.com)

The Vikings are coming off a big win over Atlanta and have plenty of momentum rolling into Week 13 to face Seattle. That being said, the Seahawks are also coming in strong, having won four of their last five games. Both teams have had their share of up and down games in 2015, and the experts this week are divided on which squad will take the “W.”

Let’s take a look at how Minnesota’s offense will match up against its opponents.


Offensive Line

After a less-than-impressive performance Week 11 against Green Bay, the offensive line played better last week. Only one of Minnesota’s nine penalties was attributed to the line (T.J. Clemmings), and the unit’s blocking was improved as well. Teddy Bridgewater escaped the game without being sacked, and Adrian Peterson had a big running game.

Despite losing original starters Phil Loadholt and John Sullivan, the patchwork offensive line has now been playing together for a long time, and consistency is key. Seattle’s No. 4 defense will be no easy match up, and the Vikings will be facing defensive end Cliff Avril, who leads the Seahawks with 7.5 sacks this season, and fellow defensive end Michael Bennett (6.5 sacks). Overall, the team has 27 sacks on the year. Clemmings had a difficult time against Denver earlier this season, and Seattle could pose a similar challenge to the rookie.

Bottom line (as always): the offensive line will need to be on its toes Sunday and will set the tone of the game early on.

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