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Vikings @ Broncos, Open Thread

Minnesota Vikings at Denver Broncos
Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium
Denver, Colorado

  1st 2nd 3rd 4th+OT F
Vikings 0 3 0 16 19
Broncos 0 14 3 5 22


Minnesota Stat Denver
164.1 ypg (1st) Rush Offense 121.9 ypg (9th)
172.3 ypg (28th) Pass Offense 223.3 ypg (13th)
336.5 ypg (14th) Total Offense 345.3 ypg (9th)
23.1 ppg (13th) Scoring Offense 19.9 ppg (21st)
70.5 ypg (1st) Rush Defense 140.7 ypg (30th)
266.1 ypg (32nd) Pass Defense 195.6 ypg (7th)
336.5 ypg (24th) Total Defense 336.3 ypg (18th)
19.3 ppg (10th) Scoring Defense 26.0 ppg (30th)

Well, here we have it, ladies and gentlemen. . .barring a minor miracle, this will be the last game of a roller coaster 2007 Vikings' season.

I say "barring a minor miracle" because there IS one other game we're watching this afternoon, that being the game between the Washington Redskins and what's likely going to amount to the Dallas Cowboys' second-stringers.  If Washington wins, they're the #6 seed in the NFC Playoffs and Minnesota's season is officially over.  If, for some reason, Washington does lose to Dallas' backups and the Vikings can pull out a win in Denver, then Minnesota would be the ones making the road trip to Seattle next weekend instead of the Redskins.  But, if I can be totally honest here, I don't have a lot of faith in that happening.  Yes, stranger things have happened in the course of NFL history, but really. . .when was the last time something good happened for the Vikings when they NEEDED it to happen?  If you want to count the Vikings making the '04 playoffs because another team. . .I believe it was Carolina. . .lost their final game of the year, that's fine.  I, personally, do not.  But the Vikings had their shot and they blew it in a big way, and now they have to, as Blanche Dubois so often did, "rely on the kindness of strangers."

As you can see by the stats above, Denver's run defense suck-diddily-ucks.  The only worse teams against the run have been Miami and Oakland. . .two teams that have won fewer games combined than either team that will take the field in Denver today has won by themselves.  But based on what we've seen the last couple of weeks, the Broncos will probably put 8 men in the box. . .again. . .and make Tarvaris Jackson try to beat them.  Where this presents a problem for Minnesota is the fact that Denver's defensive secondary is VERY good, with the ageless John Lynch at safety and the best CB duo in the NFL in Champ Bailey and Dre Bly.  If the Vikings continue to try to slam Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor into those 8-man fronts until it's too late. . .like they did last week against Washington. . .then it could be a very long afternoon for the Beloved Purple.

When possession changes and Denver has the ball, the Vikings absolutely, positively MUST hit Jay Cutler.  Cutler has a lot of physical ability and potential, but he can be rattled if you bang him around a bit.  It's up to the D-line, and specifically Kenechi Udeze and Brian Robison to get pressure on the Broncos' QB, if not start racking up the sacks.  If Cutler has all day to throw, he'll shred the Vikings' defense, particularly if we're without Antoine Winfield, who appears to be a game-time decision.

Gotta keep the faith, ladies and gentlemen.  Here's hoping that the Vikings can give us something to talk about going into the 2008 season. . .and, possibly, into this next weekend as well.

Gonzo's Final Score Prediction:  Vikings 23, Broncos 20