Minnesota Vikings: Three Keys Against Pittsburgh Steelers
In week one of the NFL, Minnesota Vikings dominated the New Orleans Saints, setting up a week two clash with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers are coming off a lackluster win over the Cleveland Browns. One of the games you almost always chalk up as a Vikings loss is a game like this. They are on the road, playing outside, on grass, against one of the favorites to win the American Football Conference. With a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger, arguably the best WR-RB combination in the NFL with Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, and a stout defense, the Steelers will provide an extremely difficult test for the Vikings. Here are three keys to watch for the Vikings if they are to pull off an important early season road win.
1. Brown or Bell – Pick Your Poison
Although the Minnesota Vikings defense is one of the top ten in the NFL, it is unrealistic to think they will be able to stop both Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. The best thing the defense is to at least limit them in terms of production. With regards to limiting Brown, putting Xavier Rhodes on him and bracketing coverage will be the right move to make. By no means will that stop Brown from getting his numbers, but if the secondary can neutralize the middle to deep throws, containment is doable. With regards to limiting Bell, do not let last week’s numbers fool you. Bell was still getting his game day legs back after sitting out most of training camp. It will be up to the front seven to make sure gap containment is met and limit the yards after contact.
2. Use Dalvin Cook’s Hands As A Weapon
Although Cook had an amazing debut running the ball Monday Night, breaking Adrian Peterson’s rookie record for most rushing yards in his first game, he was far less than impressive as a receiver. Cook dropped two passes and looking generally uncomfortable. This Sunday, he will need to play a big role catching passes out of the backfield. If the offense can get him in space, it will put a lot of pressure on T.J. Watt and Ryan Shazier. His ability as a receiver this week is going to be a big key, and really open up this offense against the 3-4 set the Steelers play.
3. Win The Field Position Battle
With two of the top defenses against each other, there is no doubt that it will be tough for either offense to drive 75-80 yards on a consistent basis. It is where the battle for field position will take the shape of the outcome of this game. The defense that makes the most plays, and gets the most short field chances, will score the most points. The turnover battle will also be huge and the clock battle will also play an integral part in the game’s outcome.
When the Minnesota Vikings schedule came out, I saw this game, and I automatically chalked it up as a defeat against a strong foe. However, I believe that if the Vikings meet the above keys, as well as contain Roethlisberger, they have as good a chance as any of pulling out the win. We shall see on Sunday.