Monday, September 26, 2016

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Adam Thielen
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

While we try to figure out just where our latest playoff heartbreaker will rank in Minnesota Vikings lore, and some of try to find a suitable nickname for the missed kick that ensured the loss, there also exists an urge to collectively cast our gaze to the future.

One of the first things that needs to be addressed in any offseason are the questions surrounding the current roster and figuring out just which players could end up moving on in the coming months.

As of today, here are the Vikings players set to see their current contracts expire prior to the 2016 season. The list is loosely ranked by playing time and production, so don’t put too much stock into the order in which they appear:

2016 Minnesota Vikings Free Agents

Mike Harris, OL, 27

By quite a large margin, Mike Harris was the Vikings most consistent offensive lineman in 2015. That might not be saying much, but I would hate to have witnessed what the unit would’ve looked like with out him. The Vikings can’t afford to take a step backwards at offensive line this offseason (they need to take a few huge steps forwards) and resigning Harris should be a priority near the top of Rick Spielman’s to-do list.

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Image courtesy of vikings.com

Blair Walsh missed a 27-yard potential game winning field-goal with 22 seconds to play as the Seattle Seahawks escaped Minneapolis with a 10-9 victory. Walsh was having an MVP like day connecting on field goals of 22, 43 and 47-yards helping guide the Vikings to a 9-0 fourth quarter lead.

The momentum swung in the Seahawks favor when a shotgun snap sailed past Russell Wilson and he not only managed to recover it, but in Houdini-like fashion, avoided the sack and found Tyler Lockett on a crossing route for the improbable 35-yard reception. Two plays later, Wilson hit Doug Baldwin for a 3-yard touchdown cutting the score to 9-7.

On the Vikings’ following possession, Adrian Peterson fumbled after making a catch out of the backfield which led to a Seattle seven play drive capped off by a Steven Hauschka 46-yard game winning field goal with 8:09 to play.

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Minnesota will play the Seahawks at full strength

Vikings Inactives Wild Card
Image courtesy of NFL Game Pass

The Minnesota Vikings are near full-health in their most important game of the season, a Wild Card matchup with the Seattle Seahawks. The last time these two teams met, Anthony Barr, Harrison Smith, and Linval Joseph were either injured before the game or left the game early because of injuries. This time around, Mike Zimmer’s defense will be primed to contain Russell Wilson and the red-hot Seahawks offense.

On Friday, the Vikings released the weekly injury report, which listed all but one player as “probable” for today’s game. Defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis is out with an ankle injury, and will be replaced by former practice squad player B.J. Dubose. Below, a look at all of the Vikings’ inactives for Wild Card Weekend:

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Zimmer's blitzes could be the key for the Vikings on Sunday

Vikings Blitz Wilson
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Sifting through recent Seattle Seahawks game film, it’s difficult to find many weaknesses for the Minnesota Vikings to exploit. Russell Wilson is playing at MVP levels, especially as of late. In Seattle’s last seven games, he’s thrown 24 touchdown passes and just one interception, helping him finish the season as the first player in NFL history to record at least 4,000 passing yards, 30 passing touchdowns, and 500 rushing yards in a single season. Known more for his mobility than his ability from within the pocket, Wilson is thriving as a traditional pocket passer. This season, he’s posted a 118.6 passer rating when throwing from the pocket, which is higher than any qualifying quarterback in the past three years.

When the Vikings and Seahawks met last, Wilson hurt Mike Zimmer’s defense every which way. He scored one touchdown on the ground and threw another three, two of which were 20 or more yards down the field. That game kickstarted his stretch of All-Pro play and helped the Seahawks win six of their last seven games. But that game was also a lopsided affair, one that found the Vikings shorthanded on the defensive side of the ball. Missing three of their most important players — one at each level of the defense — the Vikings surrendered 433 yards to the Seahawks and allowed a season-high 38 points. Finally healthy and playing some of their best football, the Vikings have the chance to upset the Seahawks and win their first playoff game.

But how can they slow down Wilson and Seattle’s suddenly dangerous passing attack? It’s simple — put pressure on the quarterback and blitz.

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