December 10, 2018 11:50 AM
Monday night's NFL matchup is full of playoff implications for both the Minnesota Vikings and the Seattle Seahawks.
Here are three keys to the Vikings picking up a victory:
1. Stop the run
While Russell Wilson is having an outstanding season with 29 touchdown passes, Seattle's run game is what has them at 7-5 this season.
The Seahawks lead the NFL with 148.8 rushing yards a game. It's not a bell-cow system, either. Three different running backs have played big roles throughout the season. Chris Carson is their leading rusher (704 yards), but Mike Davis (396 yards) and rookie Rashaad Penny (369 yards) have also stepped up when needed.
"They're exceptional at running the football," Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards said on Friday. "They do a good job with their offensive line up front, they're physical, and they get to the second level very well. The running back (Carson) has great vision, he's able to see all the cuts. He can make all the cuts, he can get out of the perimeter, he's a tough tackle for a defensive back. He's got the strength to hit it up inside, those types of deals. We've got our work cut out for us in the run game this week, and it's one of the things we're emphasizing this week."
The Vikings are only giving up 99.2 rushing yards per game, which is the 7th best run defense in the league.
2. Get the ball to Dalvin Cook
Dalvin Cook might be the Vikings' most talented offensive player, while being the most underutilized as well.
Cook is fully healthy after missing time with a hamstring injury, but the Vikings still seem hesitant to make him a workhorse back.
Game flow has been a problem. The Vikings have fallen behind in games lately in which they've needed to throw the ball more than they'd like. Last week, Cook averaged over nine yards a carry, but the Vikings barely ran the ball in the second half of their loss to New England.
"We try, we don't always succeed, but we try to find Dalvin creative ways to get the football in space," Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said. "Sometimes that is not just handing the ball off from the back field. Sometimes that is throwing him a swing screen or trying to get him out in the flat. We did that on first down the other night for a gain of five. If you are in the run world, it's an efficient run. There are different ways to try to get an athlete like that in space. It's just always not just from the back field. But yes, would we like to see him carry the ball more? Absolutely."
On the season, the Vikings rank 30th out of 32 teams with 86.1 yards rushing per game.
3. Force turnovers
It's much easier to win on the road if you can capitalize on turnovers. It takes puts the offense into better field position and takes the crowd out of the game. Unfortunately for the Vikings, Seattle has been very careful with the football this season.
The Seahawks have only turned the ball over nine times all year. That's the fewest in the NFL. They are tied for 2nd in the NFL in takeaway/giveaway at +11.
The Vikings' defense has been more aggressive lately forcing 11 turnovers across the last six games.
Updated: December 10, 2018 11:50 AM
Created: December 10, 2018 11:37 AM
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