Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Norv Turner

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(image courtesy of Vikings.com)

It’s probably safe to say that not many NFL fans would have predicted this scenario for the Vikings/Packers first match up of 2015. With Minnesota currently sitting one game over Green Bay and leading the NFC North Division, a victory over its rival will increase the Vikings’ record to 8-2 and give them some more breathing room in the standings.

The Vikings are 48-57 against the Packers overall and 26-27 when playing at home. However, they have won only one of the past 11 meetings (there was also a tie in 2013).

Week 11 will arguably be the team’s biggest game of the season thus far, and you can bet there will be more than enough energy filling TCF Bank Stadium Sunday afternoon. Let’s take a look at the offensive picture for Minnesota.

Offensive Line

In looking at last week’s win over Oakland, there were pros and cons from the offensive line.

The Vikings are continuing their positive trend of committing very few penalties, and the offensive line is playing its part there. In Sunday’s game against the Raiders, Minnesota was penalized just three times, one of those calls being a false start against Brandon Fusco. Coming off a 2014 season in which offensive linemen cost the Vikings a lot penalty yards, this year has been a welcomed improvement.

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(image courtesy of vikings.com)

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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I’ve been introduced to #RaidersTwitter, so today’s show art should go over real well….

It’s another Arif Hasan Friday here on Purple FTW! We chat with our man about the upcoming throwdown between the Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings and the Los Angeles St. Louis Oakland Raiders. Topics covered include: the almost unprecedented level at which Linval Joseph is playing, breaking down which individual skills Derek Carr and Teddy Bridgewater are better at, how Bill “3×5” Musgrave has changed since leaving the Vikings, why Arif wants to marry Anthony Barr, and we go over Pro Bowl picks aka ALL IN FOR JOE WEBB.

All that and other “I Dare Anyone To Do THIS to Zimmer” 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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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

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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The Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings got their second divisional road win since 2009 Sunday afternoon at Ford Field, rebounding from a slow start to top the Motor City Kitties 28-19. The Zimmer Hellfire Defense sacked Matthew Stafford seven times en route to a 2nd half defensive shutout as the Purple roll to 4-2 and hope to catch playoff momentum as we barrel along the 2015 campaign.

Other “I Still Think It Was Shellfish” Talkers Include
• #SnuffGate
• Stefon F. Diggs
• Teddy is Tougher Than a $2 Steak
• The Zimmer Hellfire Defense Rebounded Well
• Adrian is Feast or Famine. Like he always has been
• Harrison Smith is the Best Safety in the League. Period.
• Get Sendejo the Hell Out of There (#FreeVereen)
• Cordarrelle Patterson is Done
• Kyle Rudolph. No Comment
• Points on the Table – Redzone Playcalling
• Playoffs? Don’t Talk About Playoffs
• Can Diggs go back-to-back for Pepsi Rookie of the Week?
• Hai, Blair Walsh
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All that and other “Vikings…. Come out and play-ayyyyyy” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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