9/25/2017 – A week ago, Vikings fans we’re given a piss poor performance in Pittsburgh emphasized by the last second decision to start CAse Keenum over the injured Sam Bradford. The team struggled mightily on offense while lack of production and discipline gave the feeling that the team was never truly in the game.
Yesterday was a different story. With a winning record on the line and Case Keenum under center for the second straight game, the Vikings came out on fire, jumping to a 28-3 lead that eventually ended in a 34-17 trouncing of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Keenum threw for 369 yards, 3 TDs and a 142 QBR; if any other QB on the roster did that (Sam or Teddy), he would be deemed ‘The Guy’. The offensive numbers produced by this year’s team are promising. The Vikings are second in the league in total offense and have scored 8 touchdowns through three games. These numbers could be smoke and mirrors as the team hasn’t truly been tested by a competent opponent (Pittsburgh counted until their loss to Chicago). I think if the offensive line continues to succeed, the offense as a unit will succeed as well, but not at the current rate.
The defense continues to be impressive as expected, Jameis Winston was under fire all game and star WR Mike Evans couldn’t get anything going against Xavier Rhodes, prompting him to flip over a water cooler in the second half of yesterday’s game. Trae Waynes continues to develop into the player we all expect he can be, snagging another huge pick while covering Desean Jackson. Waynes continues to get picked on relentlessly by opposing QBs, which luckily has given him the opportunity to make some big plays. If this team is gonna be division rival Detroit next week, the defense needs to come out hungry like yesterday.
Mike Zimmer says Bradford remains day to day and will play when medically cleared. This means that if he plays, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen could be primed for huge games next Sunday. Darius Slay Jr. on Stefon Diggs will be a premier position battle next week, one that’s likely to draw some media attention.
If the Vikings are gonna keep the hot hand and win their first division game next week, three things must come into fruition. First, the defense has to play they way they did against New Orleans and Tampa Bay. If they play like they did in Pittsburgh, Matt Stafford and his receiving core will make us pay. Second, the offensive line needs to continue to mesh as a unit and win the individual battles like they did against Tampa. The fact that their past two performances have been night and day is a scary thought for fans and coaches. At this point the way they pay will either be very good or very bad, we have yet to see any stability or consistency. Finally, our receivers, mainly Diggs and Theilen need to get open fast enough for Keenum to find them without being sacked. As we learned last year, the Lions are no longer a gimme-game and their secondary is good enough to suppress our receiving core for long stretches during the game. To beat Detroit, we need to continue to get clutch, timely plays from Diggs and Theilen.
Dalvin has continued to succeed in this offense and by season’s end will likely have the bests stats of any position player on the team. This shouldn’t be taken lightly as this is the best group of skill players this franchise has seen since 2009. Dalvin Cook is also a factor in the Detroit game, but given the consistency and style of his play, he’s guaranteed to get his (estimated) 80 yards and a touchdown.
It’ll be a close one and I think offensive productivity, the penalty battle and timely turnovers will decide this game. Keep in mind , if the Vikings win, our Season Preview will be 4-0 to start the season.
Prediction: Vikings 24 – Lions 20