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Three Biggest Games: Minnesota Vikings


They’re building something interesting in the north. Despite ending the 2014 season with a losing record of 7-9, the Vikings improved on their dismal five-win season in 2013 care of a respected, no-nonsense head coach, a defense that couldn’t possibly be any worse and a fresh new arm at quarterback. Minnesota will be hard pressed to secure a playoff appearance amongst a congested NFC North this season, but victories in three key games could well propel them to a winning season.

Week 1 at San Francisco 49ers

As the Vikings are forced to wait one more season before unveiling their new home to the NFL, they will spend the first week of 2015 on the West Coast in another team’s state-of-the-art stadium. San Francisco suffered through the season from hell last year, with poor play, injuries and internal conflict forcing them out of playoff contention. As NFL offenses continue to decipher the read-option offense, the jury is still out on Colin Kaepernick’s skills as a pocket passer. The Vikings unintimidating defensive line will be in for a long day if second-level defenders like LB Anthony Barr fail to keep the polarising QB in check.

Week 4 at Denver Broncos

Peyton Manning, unlike Kaepernick, is no sprinter, but a full offseason of rest and preparation may have made him far more dangerous. Manning – and, by extension, the Broncos – ran out of steam at the worst possible time last year. It was obvious that Peyton’s injuries were irking him as him arm strength and decision-making abilities diminished right before our eyes. We won’t know the extent of Manning’s decline by week 4, but the Vikings will take the win anyway in the harsh confines of Sports Authority Field. Adrian Peterson or no Adrian Peterson, the game plan should remain the same: a heavy dose of power running and high-percentage throws to chew the clock.

Week 13 vs. Seattle Seahawks

One month out from the playoffs is when the best teams begin to play their best football. And, for the fourth straight year, that list of contenders should include the Seahawks. But in this duel of young, intelligent quarterbacks don’t be surprised to see little in the way of splashy offensive plays. Both defenses should run a scheme based around pressure and containment. By week 13, cornerback Trae Waynes and linebacker Eric Kendricks could both be firming as dark horse contenders for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, and even if Minnesota are out of the playoff chase, this game could be worth watching for their performances alone.

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