The Vikings had their way with the Saints in the season opener and they did it by keeping Sam Bradford upright and playing solid defense. Week two versus the Steelers the game plan will remain similar.
Minnesota Vikings Week Two Keys to VIctory
The basic game plan may be the same but the execution will be more difficult as they face off against a tougher opponent in the Steelers. The Steelers defensive front seven is light years better than the Saints. That front seven for the Steelers may be missing its best player in Stephon Tuitt who is likely going to be out with a biceps injury.
The offensive line must have a repeat performance and keep Sam Bradford comfortable in the pocket. It’s even more important now that Bradford is nursing a sore knee. Bradford’s mobility may be even more limited, so keeping the Steelers front seven from collapsing the pocket will be paramount.
Exploit Favorable Matchups
The Steelers defense is better than the one they faced last week but not a typical Steelers defense, this one is very beatable. There are some matchups that favor the Vikings offense. The Steelers secondary has a mix of past their prime players and inexperienced players. Joe Haden cannot keep up with Stephon Diggs, if I were the Vikings I would be trying to make that matchup happen. I also like Adam Thielen’s size matchup with any of the Steelers corners.
This could also be another big day for rookie running back, Dalvin Cook. Last season the Steelers gave up 80 or more yards receiving to a running back three times. The Steelers were also mediocre at best against the run finishing middle of the pack statistically. Cook’s effectiveness could depend on if Ryan Shazier draws the coverage responsibility for the running back or tight end. Shazier is outstanding in coverage. However, Shazier can only cover one player and someone will have to cover whoever he isn’t. So, either Cook or Rudolph is going to have a favorable matchup.
On the defensive side, the Vikings have a favorable matchup along the defensive line as they will most weeks. This week will be more challenging as the Steeler offensive line is much better than the Saints. The key for the defense is going to just limit Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. These two are too good to completely shut down but they can certainly rotate Xavier Rhodes on and off of Brown in key moments. Rhodes may see some action across from Brown but so will Tre Waynes and I think how Waynes performs will affect the game more. If Waynes looks competent that leaves Rhodes to lock down the Steelers number two option. If Waynes is overmatched, Brown will have a big game.
Vikings 24 Steelers 17