Is This the Vikings Big Breakout?
The Minnesota Vikings 10-3 record suggests they are a very good football team. But watching them play against the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys over the past couple of weeks may tell an entirely different story altogether. The reality is somewhere in between, but opportunity presents itself on Saturday.
Squaring off against the Indianapolis Colts, Kevin O’Connell’s squad can do plenty to make their mark. The Colts are not a good football team, and they come to U.S. Bank Stadium with more questions than answers. Matt Ryan is back under center, previously benched in favor of Sam Ehlinger. They don’t have much in the form of skill position players outside Jonathan Taylor, and Jeff Saturday is the epitome of a rookie head coach.
Is This the Vikings Big Breakout?
Online bookmaker Bovada has the line set at -4, favoring Minnesota by more than a field goal at home. That feels almost disrespectful and somewhat reactionary to a poor defensive performance on the road against a Lions team that is good at home. If there’s an opportunity to take that to heart, however, it will be on the field this weekend.
We’ve heard plenty this week from both O’Connell and his defensive coordinator Ed Donatell. The defense has been a problematic unit, and they are going on eight straight quarters without a sack. Jared Goff was able to have his way with the secondary, and there’s no reason to believe they’ll be vastly improved in a week. However, what can change is how players are positioned and the gameplan as a whole. The Colts are the perfect get-right squad.
According to Oddshark’s supercomputer, the projected score for this one is Vikings 27-18 over the Colts. While that isn’t exactly a blowout, the computer typically avoids egregious results. Seeing a nearly double-digit victory calculated through scores of potential outcomes is a pretty solid sentiment in the Vikings favor. Anything that resembles a blowout on the field for Minnesota could go a long way toward calming fears from last week.
Short of the Week 1 victory against the Green Bay Packers, the Vikings have had very little come easy. They have done a solid job putting up points, but even against lesser opponents, they’ve struggled in limiting them. With four games left until the playoffs and in line to host a home game, the Vikings goal should be to establish that they belong.
No team that Minnesota faces in the playoffs will be afraid of the prospects put up by the Vikings. U.S. Bank Stadium is a considerable homefield advantage, but if every opponent believes this is a team constantly willing to leave the door open, the level of trust in a comeback is much higher than it should be.
While O’Connell is still learning on the fly as a rookie head coach on his own, Saturday is literally learning everything from the ground up. He did win his first game with the Colts but has since come back to earth and has displayed some egregious missteps in the games since. With O’Connell’s playcalling and decision-making skills having been questionable last week, it would be a positive development to see a substantial turnaround.
The Vikings have plenty of reason to expect an opportunity to win out. It starts with a winnable game on Saturday, and making sure to put their best foot forward is beyond a must for the Vikings.
Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.