Sunday, November 29, 2015


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Vikings Injury Report
NamePositionInjuryWed.Thur.Fri. Status
Griffen, EversonDEHip/ShoulderDNPDNPLimitedQuestionable
Smith, HarrisonSKneeDNPDNPLimitedQuestionable
Waynes, TraeCBAnkle________LimitedDNPQuestionable
Barr, AnthonyLBHandFullFullFullProbable
Blanton, RobertSAnkleLimitedFullFullProbable
Bridgewater, TeddyQBLeft ShoulderFullFullFullProbable
Floyd, SharrifDTAnkleLimitedFullFullProbable
Kalil, MattTToeLimitedFullFullProbable
Kendricks, EricLBRibsFullFullFullProbable

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After a Blair Walsh overtime win against St. Louis last week, the Vikings are now 6-2 and tied with Green Bay to lead the NFC North division. The Packers play the Lions this week, which will most likely be another win for Green Bay, so it’s even more important for the Vikings to come away with a victory Sunday.

The Raiders are No. 2 behind Denver in the AFC West division with a 4-4 record. They are coming off a narrow loss to Pittsburgh and will be hungry for a win at home. Derek Carr is averaging 262 passing yards per game and has 19 touchdowns and only four interceptions on the season. Add in the speed and hands of rookie receiver Amari Cooper, and Oakland is no easy contest. Don’t forget, Minnesota is also going against its former offensive coordinator, Bill Musgrave.

Most experts are choosing the Raiders over the Vikings, so Mike Zimmer and his team have something to prove. Lets take a look at how Minnesota’s offense will match up against its opponents in Week 10.

Offensive Line

The offensive line allowed only one sack against Teddy Bridgewater last week, although he did receive a decent amount of pressure. There have been pros and cons for the line all season, one of the positives being that the unit has reduced the number of penalties committed after last year. The Vikings as a whole are the least-penalized team in the NFL; as Denver’s Aqib Talib found out last week, penalties can prove significant to a game’s outcome. With Joe Berger looking to be the starting center through the rest of the season in John Sullivan‘s absence, the offensive line has been working to hold its own.

While Oakland used to be known for its defense, the team currently ranks No. 30 in the league (above only the Saints and the Giants). Protecting Bridgewater and blocking against the Raiders will not be like defending the Rams or Broncos, and Minnesota’s O-Line should do well in this situation. The Raiders’ largest threat is linebacker Malcolm Smith; Smith has 59 tackles (50 solo) and three sacks on the season thus far. The line will need to contain Smith in order to keep Minnesota in the game offensively.

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Adam: Linval Joseph, DT
This one is easy, to me. It doesn’t matter if you are his teammate or his opponent. There are no excuses about injuries to the guy next to him. There is no matchup too tough. Analytical types are every bit as high on him as a casual observer. He is disruptive, impacting both the run and the pass, and his impact has been as consistent as anybody on this defense… and there are plenty of consistent producers on this defense. Mid-season? I say Joseph is the clearest Pro Bowler on this team, without a doubt.

Brent: Anthony Barr, LB
Trying to stray from the pack here a little bit as the obvious answer is Harrison Smith, and rightfully so. Smith has been dominant in 2015, and I believe should be in consideration as the best safety in the league. That said, Barr plays a massive role in the Vikings defense and goes into Sunday’s game as the 3rd-highest-rated linebacker by PFF standards. Looking at Barr statistically, you note that he is second on the team in tackles, has a fumble recovery, 1.5 sacks and an INT. Not bad for a second-year linebacker some feared would be slow to adapt to the NFL level. What isn’t noted in Barr’s stats is his role he plays bringing pressure on the ‘A’ gap that has become so popular in Mike Zimmer’s defense. He might not always blitz, but his presence is enough for quarterbacks to be ever aware of where No. 55 is.

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According to, nose tackle Linval Joseph has been named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week after his role in Minnesota’s 21-18 OT win against St. Louis Sunday.

During the game, Joseph recorded 10 total tackles (7 solo), 0.5 sacks, 3 TFLs and 2 pressures. This season, New Orleans’ John Jenkins is the only other defensive tackle to notch 10 combined tackles.

Joseph finished the 2014 season with 29 solo tackles. After just eight games, Joseph already has 26 and leads all defensive tackles in the NFL. Earlier this season, head coach Mike Zimmer said the following of Joseph:

“One thing about [Linval] that I’m very impressed with—and I hope that our whole football team gets this mentality—is that he does an awful lot of dirty work that doesn’t show up in the stat book.”

Joseph continues to do that grunt work to maintain a solid defensive line, but he is now garnering plenty of attention for his efforts.

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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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