I've never been a convicted felon on death row...allegedly. So I can only try and imagine what goes through a person's mind when they hear the phrase 'Dead Man Walking'.
I kind of think, at least metaphorically speaking, this is what I feel like waiting for Sunday. It's this sense of foreboding and doom, and when it's over at around 3:00, I'm going to feel like my team has lethally injected all the fun out of me.
But you know, maybe the Vikings have something up their sleeves for Sunday. If they're going to pull a rabbit out of their hat, and I'm going to get another metaphorical pardon from the governor, here's what's going to need to happen.
Make Aaron Rodgers uncomfortable. This is a lot easier said than done, as Rodgers is playing as well at the quarterback position as anyone has in the last 10 or 15 years. It doesn't matter what type of throw or who the receiver is, Rodgers doesn't miss. 8 yard slant? Money. 65 yard sideline deep route, outside back shoulder? Money. That said, if the Vikings defense can find a way to bring consistent pressure up the middle, without having to bring an extra guy on a blitz, the Vikings might be able to throw Rodgers off of his game.
Win the turnover battle, by a significant margin. The Vikings are going to need everything to go right for them on Sunday. Included on everything going right is winning the turnover battle. And by winning it, I mean not 4-2, I mean like 3-0 or 4-0. Minnesota can't afford to give Green Bay an extra possession, especially an extra possession on a short field. The Vikings are going to need to force the action, make some big plays, and help the offense out.
Force the action downfield on offense. It's time to let loose, Teddy Bridgewater, and not just in the last two minutes of the half or of the game. We can critique his long ball, which has been suspect, but I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about hitting wide receivers 10-20 yards downfield. Those plays are out there, and the Packers defense is suspect in that regard. There's nothing wrong with a screen pass here and there, but that can't be the focus of the offense again this week like it was against Chicago.
It's the Jerick McKinnon show. With Adrian Peterson out due to suspension, and Matt Asiata dealing with a concussion, the Vikings signed free agent RB Ben Tate yesterday. While I'm sure Tate will turn out to be the running back savior we all expect...what's that? Oh, he won't? Well then. I guess that means the Vikings are going to turn the keys over to Jerick McKinnon, and he needs to step up. He's shown an ability to be a good running back and a receiver, and that's what the Vikings drafted him for.
The offensive line can't be, you know, offensive. It's been a constant, disappointing theme in 2014, and if the Vikings are going to finish strong, the line needs to play better. There's no magic pill that will fix this problem; it's either going to happen or it isn't. If it happens, the Vikings offense has proven to be pretty good. If they struggle, the Vikings offense struggles. It's really that uncomplicated. We'll find out pretty early on what kind of play the line will give the offense on Sunday, and adjust your expectations accordingly.