After starting the season 1-4, and the injuries the Vikings have faced, it’s pretty remarkable. Yet Minnesota sits at 6-4 and is the hottest team in the NFL.
How are Vikings fans feeling heading into Week against the Denver Broncos?
DraftKings Sportsbook likes Denver's chances. The Broncos are slight favorites over Minnesota on Sunday night. As for the total, that number sits at 43. That’s down from the 44 it was earlier in the week, but that still feels too high. Given how well both defenses have been playing, the under seems the safe bet for this game.
To preview Sunday night’s game, we go behind enemy lines to get a feel for the Vikings heading in Week 11 with Christopher Gates from Daily Noreseman.
MHR: How are Vikings fans feeling heading into Week 11?
Christopher: Given the way that Vikings fans were feeling after Week 5, pretty darn good. The Vikings lost to the Chiefs in Week 5 to fall to 1-4 and the next day Justin Jefferson went on IR. Since then all the team has done is go 5-0 with three different quarterbacks getting starts (even if Jaren Hall only played for a quarter before getting a concussion), so I think Vikings fans are feeling pretty happy right now.
A lot of us, myself included, thought the competitive portion of the season was going to be over when Jefferson went on IR, and we definitely thought we were in trouble when Kirk Cousins tore his Achilles, but Kevin O’Connell has this team playing solid football and they’ve inserted themselves solidly into the playoff chase in the NFC after a disastrous start to the season. Honestly, we can’t ask for a whole lot more than that.
MHR: Why has Josh Dobbs had success since arriving in Minnesota? And how sustainable is this for him and the team?
Christopher: Did you know that Josh Dobbs is an actual rocket scientist? (I’m guessing you’ve heard it at least once over the past couple of weeks.) Honestly, a lot of the credit that Dobbs has gotten thus far has been given to his level of intelligence, which is obviously quite high. However, I don’t think it can be understated how having a coach like Kevin O’Connell that’s played quarterback in the NFL before has helped. When Dobbs went into the game against Atlanta, following a week that saw him get zero snaps in practice because the team was focused on getting Jaren Hall ready, O’Connell was basically walking him through the plays via his headset.
When O’Connell called the play in, it was literally “you’re going to look here, and then you’re going to look here,” and whatever other info O’Connell could relay to him before the helmet comms got cut off. I don’t think there are a lot of coaches that could have pulled that off, but O’Connell has done it, and now Dobbs is getting more familiar with the offense. I think that it’s sustainable simply because Dobbs is getting more comfortable with the offense and learning little things like the names of his teammates. That can only be beneficial to him going forward.
MHR: What is the plan of attack for the Vikings on Sunday night, offensively and defensively? How does Minnesota get the road win?
Christopher: On defense, Brian Flores is going to keep things unpredictable. A lot has been made of the fact that the Vikings’ defense has the highest blitz percentage in the league so far this season, but they also lead the league in three-man rushes as well. So, either Flores’ defense is going to bring everybody or they’re going to bring just about nobody and the offense has to try to figure it out before the ball is snapped. This defense is absolutely a night-and-day difference from the scheme they ran last year, and Flores’ aggressive style has made this defense the team’s identity even with a solid offense.
As far as on the offensive side, they’re going to have to continue limiting their turnovers, which they’ve pretty much done since the first month of the season, and leaning on their most productive players, whether it’s T.J. Hockenson, rookie Jordan Addison, or even a returning Justin Jefferson, who could potentially suit up on Sunday night for the first time since that Week 5 injury. Kevin O’Connell’s playcalling seems to have expanded in recent weeks, likely because Jaren Hall and Joshua Dobbs are both significantly more mobile than Kirk Cousins, and we’ll have to see that unpredictability continue as well.
MHR: What is your best bet for Sunday’s game at DraftKings Sportsbook? And what do you think of the current spread?
Christopher: I still think that the best bet on this game, and for most Vikings games going forward, is going to be the “under.” Both of these teams have been playing outstanding defense over the past few weeks, so it’s hard to project a high-scoring game in this one. I think both defenses are going to put on a show in this one and it’s going to come down to whoever can force the other quarterback to make the most mistakes. I’m just hoping the mistakes will come from Russell Wilson and not Joshua Dobbs.
MHR: What are your expectations and predictions for Sunday’s game?
Christopher: The one expectation/prediction that I have for this one is that, when it’s over, I’m still going to hate Sean Payton. But that’s not completely relevant to this one, so I’ll reiterate what I said earlier. I think this is going to be a relatively low-scoring game and things will likely come down to a key turnover by one team that the other side capitalizes on to give them an advantage. I’m nothing if not a shameless homer, so I’ll give the edge to the Vikings in this one by a final score of 20-17.