Earlier this week, the Vikings first AND second string running backs received two did not participate designations, making it unlikely that Dalvin Cook or Alexander Mattison will play against the Packers. What many would assume is a huge blow to the offense, seems to be more of a coming-out party for Minnesota’s third-string running back, Mike Boone, a week after he exploded onto the scene with two rushing touchdowns.
Boone, the Vikings sudden first option showed what he could do last Sunday against the Chargers. His quickness rivals Cooks and his finishing power punishes defenders the same way that Mattison’s does. The newly implemented zone scheme is perfect for Boone, and he is under a coach who is known for getting great production out of unknown running backs in Gary Kubiak and his partner in crime, Rick Dennison.
While it’s not 100% confirmed whether he will start or not, but with the injury to Mattison it safe to say he will see ten to fifteen touches at least. Ameer Abdullah, the lighter running back of the pack, will likely handle the change of pace back role. Abdullah knows the Packers well, having played against them twice a season every season he’s been in the NFL as a Lion and a Viking.
This pivotal divisional matchup is also a job interview for Mike Boone. He is still under contract for the 2020 season, but he could become a hot trade target for a running back needy team next season, especially a contender that loses a back to a season-ending injury. The second-year back posted over 190 rushing yards and two touchdowns in this year’s preseason and ran his way into the hearts of many Minnesota fans.
The Packers have the 24th ranked run defense and they give up a whopping 120 rushing yards a game on the ground, so there will be plenty of opportunities for Boone to leave his mark on this game. The lighter edge defenders of the Packers aren’t great run defenders, and defensive tackle Kenny Clark is having a down season without his partner Mike Daniels, which will leave them vulnerable to the cutbacks this zone scheme is famous for.
Remember Dalvin scored an eighty-yard touchdown on a zone stretch run play in the first meeting. However, In the First matchup, the Vikings fell behind early and were forced to throw the ball Often, despite this the Vikings still ran for over 100 yards.
This game could help the Vikings win the NFC North if the lowly Lions could pull off an upset in week 17 against the packers. The Vikings could also have a sixth seed locked up by Saturday if the rams lose to the 49ers.