Vikings Week 9 Preview + NFC North Rundown
The Packers had won the NFC North for four years straight.
Last year, the Vikings ended that streak with a defense rebuilt by head coach Mike Zimmer, the development of Teddy Bridgewater as a quarterback, and the usual strong season from Adrian Peterson. This season looks a little different, but the Vikings hold the lead… for now.
While the Vikings are 5-2, the Packers are only a game back at 4-3, and the Lions a game and a half at 4-4. The Minnesota Vikings are in the middle of a slump, having lost their last two games, including a 20-10 demolition last week at the hand of the lowly Bears. The score may appear close, but the Vikings never really had a shot.
These losses have come because of the early injuries to Bridgewater, Peterson, and both starting tackles. Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon are serviceable replacements, but not good enough to replace the powerful running of Peterson, especially when running behind backup linemen. Sam Bradford played sharp immediately after replacing Bridgewater, but has since regressed back to the poor performance he displayed in St. Louis and Philadelphia.
And now, to top it off, Norv Turner has resigned in the middle of the week, reportedly due to philosophical differences between him and Zimmer. Bradford found out from his wife on the way to work.
Somehow, the Vikings have to put it together this week, with or without motivational destruction of stuffed animals. This Sunday’s game against the Lions has become incredibly meaningful with both Detroit and Green Bay close behind Minnesota in the division. The answer for the Vikings this week may lie in Kyle Rudolph.
Last week, the Lions made Brock Osweiler look like a competent QB, and in the process gave up 10 catches, 94 yards, and a TD to Houston’s tight ends. C.J. Fiedorowicz is good, but Rudolph is far better. It’s no fluke, either: so far this season, the Lions have given up 50 catches, 517 yards, and eight TDs to TEs. A few big catches down the middle will open up room on the sidelines for Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, and Cordarrelle Patterson.
This week is also a chance for the Vikings defense to bounce back. Minnesota and Detroit are tied for seventh worst in the league at 19 sacks allowed, while Detroit’s 684 total rushing yards are 25th overall, despite the Lions having played one more game than half the league. Minnesota’s defensive line, long a staple of their defense, will spend the game wreaking havoc in the backfield.
It’s not a lock, let’s be clear. Despite all their issues, the Lions are a solid team who can give their division foes touch matchups. The Vikings should win, but it will be a close game.