Wednesday, November 25, 2015

joe berger

by -
(photo courtesy of

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.

by -
(photo courtesy of

In Monday’s 2 p.m. press conference, head coach Mike Zimmer addressed the media and announced that center John Sullivan underwent another surgery and is “unlikely” to return during the 2015 season.

In early September, the Vikings placed Sullivan on Injured Reserve after he underwent back surgery; the team announced he was designated to return but would likely miss at least eight weeks. Sullivan hadn’t practiced since mid August due to back spasms, and it now seems the problems will be more long term than originally thought.

by -
(photo courtesy of

It seems odd that it’s only Week 7 and the Vikings are already facing the Lions for the second and last time of the 2015 season. After beating up on Matthew Stafford and defeating Detroit 26-16 in Minneapolis Week 2, Minnesota will look to shut out its division rivals on the road Sunday.

The Lions are coming off its first win of the 2015 season, having beat Chicago last week, and you can bet they’re feeling some momentum on their end. The Vikings should prepare to face a chippy team in a must-win situation.

Lets take a look at how the Vikings offensively line up against the Lions for their second meeting.

by -
Image courtesy of

At this point last year, the Minnesota Vikings were 2-2, having just beat the Atlanta Falcons behind an eye-opening performance from rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. In his first NFL start, Bridgewater completed 19 passes for 317 yards and even scored a touchdown with his legs. The elation in Minnesota would quickly end, though, as the franchise’s newfound quarterback missed the next game and watched as his team fell to the Green Bay Packers.

Suffering from the humiliation at Lambeau Field, the Vikings continued their losing streak against the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills to fall to 2-5. Bridgewater struggled, the running game sputtered without Adrian Peterson, and the defense was a sieve at best against the run. Their 2-2 start, kicked off by a drubbing of the St. Louis Rams, wasn’t enough to keep pace with the NFC’s playoff contenders.

This year, the Vikings find themselves in a familiar, yet much different position. Though they enter the Week 5 bye at 2-2, this is a team that’s deeper, more talented, and playing at a higher level than their 2014 counterparts through four games. The record doesn’t necessarily reflect this, and an ugly Week 1 loss to the 49ers swayed expectations early, but three strong performances against the Lions, Chargers, and Broncos put the Vikings in excellent position to compete for an NFC playoff spot this season.

The Vikings won’t return to the field until Week 6, when they host the Kansas City Chiefs at TCF Bank Stadium in a crucial inter-conference matchup. Until then, head coach Mike Zimmer will have much to assess in his time off, including a few ugly trends in his team’s two losses. After the jump, we’ll dive into the game film from the Vikings’ Week 4 loss to the Denver Broncos and try to figure out what went wrong. As the famous saying goes, “The eye in the sky never lies…”

by -

Expect a heavy dose of Adrian Peterson...again.

Image courtesy of

Lost in the shuffle of the media’s obsession with Peyton Manning is the fact that Manning himself isn’t the one winning games for the Denver Broncos. Gone are the days of Manning-led teams riding their quarterback’s arm to the playoffs. Those 40,50-touchdown seasons? A thing of the past, a feat left to quarterbacks who can deliver a deep ball without a grimace.

For a player who struggles to remove his own shoes after games, it’d be unrealistic to expect Manning to lead his Denver Broncos to yet another Super Bowl. The sun began to set on Manning’s game near the end of the 2014 season, and now, we’re witnessing a player’s unglamorous descent into the twilight of his 18-year career.

Fortunately for Peyton, the Broncos have a defense that’s doing all it can to hold off the imminent sunset. According to the Denver Post, Wade Phillips’s unit is leading or near the top of every major statistical category, and they’re the first team since the 2010 Pittsburgh Steelers to record at least 10 sacks and 10 takeaways through the first three games of the season:

  • Takeaways: 10 (2)
  • Sacks: 11 (3)
  • Yards allowed per game: 259 (1)
  • Passing yards allowed per game: 176.3 (1)
  • Rushing yards. allowed per game: 82.7 (7)
  • Pts. allowed: 49 (4-T)
  • TDs allowed: 6 (4-T)
  • Defensive TDs: 2 (1-T)
  • Opponents third-down pct.: 19 percent (1)

On the opposite side of ball, the Minnesota Vikings and Adrian Peterson will need to play their best game of the season to leave Denver with a victory this week. This Sunday’s game is Mike Zimmer’s first chance at a “statement” win, and gashing this Broncos defense would be a step in the right direction — a playoff direction — for the second-year head coach.

Get Social