Wednesday, September 28, 2016

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After already playing (and defeating) the Detroit Lions twice, Minnesota will now face another of its conference rivals: Chicago. The Bears have certainly looked to be a less-than-stable team so far this season, and the Vikings defense should be enough to handle Jay Cutler and Co.

It cannot be ignored, however, that Cutler is an unpredictable force and on any given Sunday can be playing at one extreme or the other. The Vikings have also historically struggled at Soldier Field. Since 2000, Minnesota has won just one of the 14 road games against Chicago.

There are plenty of factors to consider about Sunday’s game, so let’s see how the two teams match up offensively.

Offensive Line

Now that it’s been all but guaranteed that John Sullivan will not return to the field in 2015, the Vikings know exactly what they’re working with long term. While it’s incredibly difficult to fill Sullivan’s shoes (or cleats, in this instance), Joe Berger has done an okay job stepping in as a veteran who isn’t naturally a center. Heading into Sunday’s game, the biggest concern might be rookie T.J. Clemmings.

While Clemmings hasn’t done too terrible of a job considering he was tossed into the fire in Phil Loadholt‘s absence, the rookie got demolished against Denver in Week 4 and may face a similar situation going up against linebacker Pernell McPhee. Clemmings looked entirely overwhelmed blocking against the Broncos, and McPhee could give him trouble.

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Speaking of shrimp, the Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings’ fortunes have been very small in Chicago, going winless in the Windy City since 2007. Arif Hasan swings in to talk about how the Purple can right the ship in Chi-town and improve to 5-2 on the season. We also get into the impact of rookies Eric Kendricks (NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for October) and the electric Stefon Diggs, how the Vikings are going to stop the beast Pernell McPhee, trades we’d like to see before the Tuesday deadline, and I share my World Famous Shrimp Cocktail recipe.

All that and other “WHO’S GONNA COVER KEVIN WHITE???” 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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I’m going to take a different approach with “What Went Right” this week and focus my attention on just one positive aspect of last week’s game — play-action passing. While a number of things went right for the Vikings — quarterback pressure, protecting the football, Blair Walsh’s field goal accuracy — none were as encouraging as the explosive passing plays created by the team’s running (or non-running) game.

As Ben Goessling wrote earlier this week, Teddy Bridgewater completed eight-of-nine play-action passes against the Lions for a career-high 142 yards. His quarterback rating of 99.8 on such plays was also a career-high, and what’s more important, seven of those throws traveled ten-plus yards down the field. For the game, Bridgewater completed 7-of-12 passes beyond 10 yards for 147 yards and a touchdown; his best showing this season pushing the ball down the field.

Even though Adrian Peterson struggled to find running room against the Lions, averaging just 1.16 yards per carry outside of a 75-yard scamper, it’s his sudden home run ability that creates opportunities through play-action. Defenses can’t predict whether Peterson will lose yards or break through the second level, and that insecurity forces them to respect the Vikings’ running game. Any play can turn into an explosive gain, keeping defenders aggressive when they see Peterson in the backfield.

On Sunday, Norv Turner exploited the Lions’ commitment to stopping Peterson, and it worked. Teddy Bridgewater finally carried the Vikings offense to victory, with or without a consistent running attack by his side.

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Heading to Chicago this weekend, the Vikings have a fairly large opportunity to come away with a signature win.

Although the Bears aren’t nearly the threat the have been in previous years, the Vikings have struggled to win at Soldier Field. Facing the their only back to back stretch of road games in the 2015 season, the Vikings have an opportunity to prove they can win on the road while beating two divisional foes.

That said, there may be plenty to be weary of in our first match up with the Bears. The Vikings have had their notable losses at the hands of the Bears and I can’t knock the feeling of a potential let down game. Coming out of the bye week, Chicago has had two weeks to prepare for this game and likely realizes any hope for their season is to pick up a game against the Vikings.

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Adrian Peterson 2015 Huddle Week 7 Detroit
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There’s been a lot of talk the past two weeks about the Vikings breaking streaks. Last week, when the Vikings won 28-19 at Ford Field against the Lions, it was the first time they’ve won a road game since since Week 8 of last year. This week, the team travels to Soldier Field where they haven’t left victorious since the 2007 season.

Hopefully, this Vikings team is different than previous years and can beat a team it’s better than, in almost every aspect, regardless of location.

To get you prepared for the Vikings second straight division showdown, we’ve gathered links from all over the web.

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