Monday, July 25, 2016

Matt Kalil

by -
3
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.

by -
7
Image courtesy of Vikings.com
Pos.NameInjuryWednesdayThursdayFridayStatus
TMatt KalilToe DNPDNPLPQuestionable
DTTom JohnsonConcussionLPFPFPProbable
WRAdam ThielenShoulder FPFPFPProbable
RBMatt AsiataQuadricepsLPLPFPProbable
RBAdrian PetersonHamstringLPFPFPProbable
DTSharrif FloydKnee/AnkleLPFPFPProbable
LBAnthony BarrHand/KneeLPFPFPProbable
CBMarcus SherelsShoulder FPFPFPProbable
DEJustin TrattouFootFPFPFPProbable
QBTeddy BridgewaterLeft ShoulderFPFPFPProbable
LBEric KendricksRibsFPFPFPProbable
SRobert BlantonBackLPQuestionable

by -
2
(photo courtesy of Vikings.com)

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 -
2
(photo courtesy of Vikings.com)

The Vikings are entering Week 6 off a narrow loss to Denver, the bye week and a 2-2 record. While the Chiefs have only a single win under their belt and are missing star running back Jamaal Charles, they’re not a team for which Minnesota should let its guard down. Alex Smith is a proven quarterback, and the Chiefs finished the 2014 season with a respectable 9-7 record. And worth mentioning, Minnesota will be fighting against the bye week slump. The Vikings have played miserably in the post-bye game for the past five seasons, and this year they absolutely cannot afford a loss to Kansas City.

Former Vikings head coach Brad Childress will be making his return to Minneapolis, as he currently works for the Chiefs as their “spread game analysis/special projects coach”—how’s that for a mouthful? How will Childress’ current squad fare against his former? Let’s take a look at the offensive match up.


Offensive Line

The Broncos’ top-rated defense worked over T.J. Clemmings in Week 4, and it will be interesting to see how the rookie rebounds this week. Granted, the Chiefs’ defense ranks only No. 26 in the league, but they do have powerful linebacker Justin Houston in their arsenal. Houston finished the 2014 season with 59 tackles, and he already has 18 in the books this year. He has an uncanny ability to get to the quarterback and will most likely be the offensive line’s biggest focus on Sunday.

by -
2
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

As Vikings fans watched the Packers toss the Rams to the side, the Bears rally from behind to beat the Chiefs at home, and the Lions implode against the Cardinals last week, we were reminded of how lonely a Sunday without professional football in Minnesota can be. The Vikings, who sit at 2-2 entering Week 6, are three games behind the Packers in the NFC North and currently find themselves as the sixth seed in the NFC playoff race — if, of course, the season ended today.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t, but the Vikings begin a four-week stretch of winnable games on Sunday, starting with the Kansas City Chiefs at home. Following this week’s matchup, the Vikings hit the road to play the Lions and Bears before returning to TCF Bank Stadium to host the St. Louis Rams in Week 9. Combined, the teams are 5-15, and two of those games involve division opponents, giving the Vikings a prime opportunity to separate themselves in the NFC North.

Maybe projecting a 4-0 record in those games is a bold prediction, but I’m in the mood to make bold predictions. I’ve missed watching the Vikings on Sundays, and I’m ready for Mike Zimmer’s team to redeem themselves after a close loss to the Broncos two weeks ago.  My predictions after the jump may be improbable, but the statistics tell a different story — will any become a reality against the Chiefs?

Get Social

2,862FansLike
379Subscribers+1
7,809FollowersFollow