One Group of Vikings Should Feast on Sunday

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The Minnesota Vikings’ defense has turned the page on a hackneyed 2022 season, hiring Brian Flores 10 months ago and totally revitalizing that side of the football.

One Group of Vikings Should Feast on Sunday

The group stumbled out of the gate, culminating in a porous effort at home in Week 3 versus the Los Angeles Chargers. But after that game, a last-second loss, Flores’ bunch has thrived — so much so that the group ranks ninth in the NFL per defensive DVOA.

Aspect of Vikings
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And heading into Week 14 — a must-win affair for a Vikings team straddling the playoff bubble — Minnesota’s defense should absolutely feast on the Las Vegas Raiders.

Indeed, the Raiders employ noteworthy playmakers like Davante Adams, Josh Jacobs, Jakobi Meyers, and rookie tight end Michael Mayer, but those flashy names haven’t mattered in 2023 between quarterback stints involving Jimmy Garoppolo and Aidan O’Connell.

Vikings Should Feast
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To put it bluntly, Las Vegas’ offense stinks, or at least has stunk through 13 weeks.

Per the same DVOA metric, the Raiders rank 29th in overall offense DVOA, 27th in passing DVOA, and 28th in rushing DVOA. They don’t do anything well, and the DVOA sins explain why Las Vegas checks in at 27th in points scored this season. O’Connell’s offense — not Kevin; the Raiders’ version, Aidan — scores 16.8 points per game.

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So, plugging the NFL’s fourth-worst offense against the Vikings’ ninth-best defense should give purple fans some sense of security heading into Sunday. As of late, Minnesota’s offense has struggled, mainly due to turnovers and rushing inefficiency. But the defense has kept the enterprise afloat, allowing 33 points in the last two games while the team, on the whole, lost by three (one point to the Denver Broncos and two points to the Chicago Bears).

Because the Vikings lost to the otherwise terrible Bears on Monday Night Football, no fan is waltzing into the game with extreme confidence. That’s the consequence of a 12-10 loss at home to Chicago. Yet, the Vikings’ suddenly good defense up against the O’Connell-led Raiders’ offense can be the special sauce. To some degree, it’s just what the doctor ordered for a team hoping to end a two-game losing skid.

Some believed the Cincinnati Bengals might provide a similar outlook in Week 15 versus the Vikings, but Cincinnati proved a few nights ago that their perceived offensive struggles weren’t real. Former Vikings quarterback Jake Browning played wonderfully in a Bengals win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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For this weekend, however, there is no evidence to suggest the Raiders’ version of O’Connell will slice and dice the Vikings’ defense.

If Minnesota’s offense can limit turnovers — it couldn’t against the Bears — the recipe is available on defense to tame Las Vegas’ offense and find a win.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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