3 Keys to Victory for The Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings face off against the Lions this Sunday at 1 p.m. The game looks like it should be a blow out win for the Vikings on paper, but they have shown all year that they only play in close games. In their last division match-up against the Lions, it took a last second field goal for the Vikings to beat the Lions. If a similar game plays out again on Sunday, the Lions stand a chance at getting an upset win.
The Vikings find themselves in a tricky situation currently. Last week, they suffered a brutal loss against the 49ers to fall below .500. They’re currently 5-6, but hope for the playoffs remain. With the loss to the 49ers, the Vikings fell out of the 7th seed for the playoffs but their odds to make it are 50%. A loss to the Lions would most likely end their season. Facing a must win game against a division rival, what can the Vikings do to ensure that they win?
Get Justin Jefferson The Ball
Justin Jefferson has been the difference maker all year for the Vikings. In games where Jefferson has over 100 yards, the Vikings have won every time. Last week, Jefferson had only 83 yards and no touchdowns. The difference maker in that game were the missed throws when Jefferson found himself open in the end-zone. Kirk Cousins missed Justin Jefferson twice in the end-zone, one for a touchdown and the other for a 2 point conversion. If Cousins had been on target for those throws, the Vikings would have won the game.
Against a Lions defense that is allowing 376.8 yards per game, Jefferson should be able to have one of his best games of the season. Jefferson has shown all season that he can put up big numbers against good defenses. If the Vikings get Jefferson the ball, they will likely get the win. The issue after last weeks game is if the Vikings will remain aggressive or move back into being a conservative offense.
Will The Vikings Offense Stay Aggresive?
Over the past 3 games, the Vikings have looked like a different team. They’ve switched from a conversative run the ball offense to an aggressive, pass first mentality. Against the Chargers and Packers, it won them the game. Against the 49ers, the bill finally came due when Kirk Cousins threw an ugly interception in the third quarter. Cousins appeared to crack after the interception, making a series of mistakes that led to the Vikings losing the game. These mistakes included overthrown balls and lining up behind the right guard instead of the center.
Cousins’ interception against the 49ers was bound to happen eventually. A pass aggressive offense means a higher risk of interceptions. Cousins has also shown before that he breaks down after throwing interceptions. Despite Cousins’ ugly performance against the 49ers, the Vikings still need to be aggressive throwing the ball. The last time the Vikings faced the Lions, they focused on running the ball and played conservative. This led to only winning by a last second field goal. Now with Dalvin Cook likely missing a chunk of time, the Vikings should look to rely on the pass even more.
The Defense Needs To Make Stops
The Vikings run defense was abysmal against the 49ers. The Vikings were missing their entire starting defensive line and they allowed 208 total rushing yards. They couldn’t get off of the field, allowing the 49ers to make long drives that ate away most of the clock. The 49ers finished with 37:07 team of possession. Losing Patrick Peterson to the Reserve/Covid-19 List won’t help either. The Vikings secondary has struggled when Peterson is off of the field.
To put it simply, the Vikings just need to make stops this game. With Michael Pierce and Dalvin Tomlinson being activated from the Reserve/Covid-19 list the run defense should be better. D’Andre Swift will also likely miss the game, so that should alleviate some pressure for the defensive line. However, if Patrick Peterson isn’t activated before the game, the secondary will be a liability for this game. The only saving grace might be a weak passing offense from the Lions.
The Vikings face a test this Sunday. The Lions are an easy team to beat, but the real test is how the Vikings will respond to the struggles they had last Sunday. Will the Vikings revert back to a conservative offense or continue to be pass aggressive? The Vikings have a real chance to go on a 3 game winning streak against the Lions, Steelers, and Bears. They can only do that by continuing to be aggressive. That starts again the Lions this Sunday.
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