The focus this week is understandably the Green Bay Packers, who will look to come to Minnesota, defeat the Vikings at a home, and pull half a game ahead in a tightly-contested NFC North divisional race. But before Lindsey and Brent break down the key offensive and defensive matchups tomorrow, I want to look back on last week’s victory over the Oakland Raiders.
While the Vikings excelled in a number of areas — the running game, pass defense, turnover differential — one stands out in particular, because it may be the key to the Vikings taking a two-game lead over the Packers — the pass rush.
Before they hosted the Vikings, Oakland’s offense line hadn’t given up a sack since Week 7 against the New York Jets. According to Football Outsiders, they’re the best pass protecting unit in the league, having allowed just 12 sacks this season (2.9% adjusted sack rate). The Vikings, though, exploited what’s been a stout group up front, combining aggressive first steps, solid technique, and Mike Zimmer’s varied looks to create confusion and havoc at the line of scrimmage.
They sacked Derek Carr twice and flushed him from the pocket a number of times, forcing the second-year quarterback into bad decisions and even poorer throws. That’s been the blueprint to beat Aaron Rodgers this season, and against the Packers’ 17th-ranked offensive line, Minnesota’s front-seven should have little trouble doing just that to No. 12.