The Minnesota Vikings are one of the hardest teams to peg in a season, within a league, that is full of parity. For almost a full month, these Vikings had people believing that they were essentially already 7-5, on their way to both a playoff spot and perhaps a deep run into the newly (and potentially) expanded playoff format launched this season (and perhaps expanded further depending on what happens with COVID down the stretch).
Then Sunday happened, or should I say, then Sunday and Thanksgiving happened.
Sunday being where the Vikings yet again played beneath the level of an inferior (at least inferior to some of the teams the Vikings beat in the weeks prior to Sunday) team in the Dallas Cowboys.
But all is not lost, at least not mathematically, especially considering the fact that the Vikings face back-to-back sub-.500 teams in the next two weeks in the Carolina Panthers and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Despite that, though, as the intro suggests, it’s hard to really know what Vikings team, or rather what Vikings defense, will show up Sunday.
Let’s see what the purpleTERRITORY team predicts for Teddy Bridgewater’s return to Minneapolis.
Josh Frey – Writer purplePTSD.com/VikingsTerritory.com
No matter the result, Sunday’s game is going to be headlined as Teddy Bridgewater’s return to Minnesota. Even so, the matchup itself should be headlined by both teams potentially missing key parts of their offense.
When asked this week about Christian McCaffrey’s status, head coach Matt Rhule said that he was “unlikely” to play on Sunday. Likewise, Minnesota put Adam Thielen on the COVID Reserve list on Monday, and he may also miss the game.
While both teams need wins to remain in the playoff picture, the Vikings should have a much higher sense of desperation, given that they, unlike Carolina, are not supposed to be in the midst of a rebuild this season. They also are coming off an absolutely embarrassing loss to Dallas and should have a bit of a chip on their shoulder.
Carolina’s defense pitched a shutout against Detroit, but that is far less impressive when you take into account D’Andre Swift, Kenny Golladay, and Danny Amendola all missed the game. Even with the shutout, the Panthers allow opponents to score a league-worst 49.1% of the time, and rank among the NFL’s bottom ten in rush yards allowed, rushing touchdowns allowed, and yards per attempt allowed.
Minnesota should feed Dalvin Cook early and often, especially with the potential for Thielen to miss the game. They have done a good job of that over their last eight games and have scored fewer than 20 points just once, in a win over Chicago.
Vikings 31 Panthers 21
Kyle Joudry – Writer, VikingsTerritory.com/purplePTSD.com and Owner of VikingsGazette.com
Unfortunately, homefield advantage against below average teams doesn’t mean too much to these Minnesota Vikings. If it did, then we’d be sitting at a respectable 6-4 instead of a measly 4-6. We need to keep this reality in mind as we approach this weekend’s game against Teddy Bridgewater’s Carolina Panthers.
Much of the focus in the leadup to this game has been on Bridgewater’s brief, albeit impactful time as a Viking. Bridgewater, quite evidently, is still loved by his former teammates and coaches. Does this mean he will be successful on Sunday? Not necessarily. What it does demonstrate, though, is that Bridgewater is a great leader, someone who his teammates will gladly rally around. It’s an important attribute for a quarterback.
Fans should expect Bridgewater to play reasonably well on Sunday. He has always had sneaky athleticism, and his receivers are very underrated. Minnesota’s concern ought to rest in slowing the D.J. Moore – Robby Anderson – Curtis Samuel trio, all of whom are in PFF’s top 50 receivers. Mike Zimmer will need to ensure he is doing his utmost to confuse Bridgewater by disguising the coverages while also ensuring he is creative with his blitzes. If Zimmer is successful, then the Vikings have the advantage.
Minnesota 24 – Carolina 21