A showdown in Foxboro against the New England Patriots awaits the Minnesota Vikings, who will enter the contest as prohibitive underdogs.
The Minnesota Vikings are five-point dogs on the road in the nationally televised game versus the New England Patriots. Despite the odds, the Vikings are in prime position to spring an upset. The big question is how can the Vikings do so. How can the Vikings upset the Patriots?
The Patriots are starting to round back into form with the return of tight end Rob Gronkowski coming back from an ankle injury last week. Gronkowski helps the Patriots have a balanced offensive attack. For more evidence to that thought, fans to go back to his touchdown grab last Sunday.
Gronkowski going for six opened up the passing game for Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady, as well as uncorking the run game. If the Patriots are firing on all cylinders at any point they are difficult to stop. The Vikings are, however, a defensive-minded team with the ability to slow down some of the most potent fire-power.
The Vikings will not be able to stop Gronkowski completely. If the perennial all-pro gets open he will see the football thrown in his direction. Instead of setting up a game plan to limit his targets, the attention must go towards harassing Brady.
The history on Tom Brady suggests that when there are defenders in his face he tends to hurry his throws. That is one key for the Vikings. Making Brady force some passes will get him out of his rhythm despite having a home crowd rooting him on.
Few teams have been able to silence the Patriots completely so being able to put up points is another area where the Vikings must show their mettle. And it starts with the running back tandem of Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray.
Much of the talk involving the Vikings have been based on how they can pass the football, however, everything is predicated on opposing teams respecting the ground game. Last week Cook flashed the promise that convinced the Vikings to use a second-round draft pick on him.
On display against the Green Bay Packers was his burst, lateral movement, and the ability to make the first would-be tackler miss. The Patriots have question marks throughout their front seven. If the Vikings can pin them on their heels this game will go down to the final minutes. Perhaps leaving it in the hands of the kicking game.