With a little over a month remaining in the 2011 NFL season, the Denver Broncos will take their 4-game winning streak on the road as they visit the Minnesota Vikings. The Broncos are 6-5 coming off a sweet victory over division rival San Diego Chargers. They currently sit in 2nd place in the AFC West. one game behind the Oakland Raiders. The 2-9 Vikings lost to the Atlanta Falcons 24-14 in the Georgia Dome last week and are on a 3-game slide. The last time Minnesota was victorious was on October 30th, a 24-21 squeaker over the Carolina Panthers.
This game was flexed from an afternoon spot to an 11:00 am MST starting time. The game will be nationally broadcast on FOX with Thom Brennaman doing the play by play, Brian Billick providing the color commentary and Laura Okmin reporting from the sidelines. Check here to see if the game can be seen in your area.
Weather won't be a factor in this contest since the venue is indoors. The Metrodome seats 64,111 and has a Fieldturf playing surface.
After that, the story becomes whether or not league leading rusher Adrian Peterson will play. Minnesota has had their share of season-ending injuries too. OT Scott Kooistra (Neck), LB Jasper Brinkley, CB Antoine Winfield (Collarbone), LS Cullen Loeffler (Back), FS Tyrell Johnson (Hamstring), WR Michael Jenkins (Knee) and FS Husain Abdullah (49 TKL, 1 SK, 5 PD, 1 INT) to a Concussion just this week. Losing the 3 Defensive Backs is what really hurts the Vikings.
This chart represents the Rankings for the Vikings Offense as compared to the Broncos Defense. I have also included last week's rankings for the Broncos so you can see progress or regress. The DVOA stat is taken from Football Outsiders and is explained here.
|55||14th Most||QB Hits Allowed||N/A||N/A|
At Wide Receiver, Percy Harvin (51 Rec, 554 yds, a 10.9 avg, 2 TD) starts on one side and Michael Jenkins (38 Rec, 466 yds, a 12.3 avg and 3 TDs). Devin Aromashodu (9 Rec, 213 yds, a 23.7 avg, 1 TD), Bernard Berrian (7 Rec, 91 yds) and Greg Camarillo (4 Rec, 62 yds) round out this corp.
The Offensive Line looks like this: LT Charlie Johnson (4 Penalties, including 3 False Starts, 6 Sacks Allowed), LG Steve Hutchinson (1 FS, 2 Hold, 1 SA), Center John Sullivan (2 SA), RG Joe Berger (1 FS, 1 Hold, 1 SA) and RT Phil Loadholt (3 FS, 2 Hold, 7 SA). Backup RG Anthony Herrera (1 SA) and RT Patrick Brown (1 Hold, 1 SA) have filled in as needed, while Rookies DeMarcus Love (LT) and Brandon Fusco (C) haven't received significant playing time.
This chart represents the Rankings for the Vikings Defense as compared to the Broncos Offense.
|81/655||9th Most||Penalties||14th Most||69/595|
|N/A||N/A||QB Hits Allowed||25th Most||44|
Minnesota's Defensive Line looked like this against the Falcons: LDE Brian Robison (26 TKL, 5.5 SK, 1 PD, 1 FF) , LDT Remi Ayodele (6 TKL), RDT Kevin Williams (23 TKL, 2 SK, 2 PD, 1 FF) and RDE Jared Allen (48 TKL, 13.5 SK, 3 FF, 3 PD, 1 INT). Everson Griffen (17 TKL, 4 SK, 1 PD, 1 FF), Fred Evans (18 TKL), Letroy Guion (10 TKL), Rookie Christian Ballard (7 TKL) are the backups and 7th round pick D'Aundre Reed has been a regular on the Game Day Inactive List.
The Linebackers are LOLB Chad Greenway (104 TKL, 1 SK, 1 PD), MLB E.J. Henderson (67 TKL, 2 SK, 3 PD, 1 FF) and ROLB Erin Henderson (44 TKL, 1 SK, 2 PD, 1 FF). Larry Dean (7 TKL), Kenny Onatolu (10 TKL) and Xavier Adibi are their backups
In the defensive backfield, the LCB is Asher Allen (38 TKL, 3 PD, 1 INT) and the RCB is Cedric Griffin (55 TKL, 8 PD, 2 FF). Chris Cook (20 TKL, 4 PD) and Marcus Sherels (14 TKL, 1 SK) are the Nickel and Dime package substitutions. Rookie Brandon Burton has been a game day Inactive and Benny Sapp (6 TKL. 1 PD) was recently acquired to make up for the loss of Antoine Winfield.
This chart represents the Rankings for both teams Special Teams Units.
The Kicker for the Vikings is Ryan Longwell. The 15th year Pro is 13 of 17 (76.5%) this year on Field Goal Attempts, with a long of 53 yards. His career long is a 55-yarder in 2007, so you have an idea of his range. Longwell has nailed all 25 Extra Point Attempts in 2011. His Kickoffs average landing spot is the 4 yard line. In 50 Kickoffs this year, 13 have gone for a touchback (26%). The other 37 were returned an average of 25.5 yards.
Punter and Holder is Chris Kluwe, who has punted 53 times this year for a 44.8 yard gross average. His Net average is 36.4 yards. Kluwe's longest of the year went 58 yards. He has placed 15 Inside the 20 and 14 of his punts have been Fair Caught. 31 of Kluwe's punts have been returned for an average of 13.8 yards, including a touchdown.
The Kick Returners have been Lorenzo Booker (19 KRs, a 23.7 avg, 68 Long), Percy Harvin (11 KR's, a 36.2 avg, 1 TD and a long of 104 yards) and Marcus Sherels (4 KRs, a 40.5 avg, and a long of 78 yards).
This will be only the 13th time these two teams have met. Minnesota leads the series 7-5 and they are 4-2 at the Dome. The very first time the Broncos and the Vikings played was during the 1972 season in Denver. The Vikings claimed a 23-20 victory that day. The last game between the two was a 22-19 Overtime Win at Invesco. Denver is 2-3 at the Metrodome.
This is a winnable game for the Broncos as long as they have their mean business on Sunday. Not to slight the Vikes, but they have a rookie quarterback playing, well, like a rookie. The star Running Back and 65% of the Offense has a bum ankle, so the league's 5th ranked Rushing Offense will suffer. The Defensive backfield is very thin also and will need all the pass rushing help they can muster. It may be enough that they have one of the NFL's best pass rushers in Jared Allen (13.5 Sacks). The Vikings also have the 9th ranked Rush Defense, holding teams to a 99.6 average. I am betting that we see the same game plan as the last couple of weeks from the Broncos--Run til they stop us and pressure the opposing quarterback. Sounds simple enough to me, it just needs execution.