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Minnesota Vikings at Miami Dolphins: First Quarter Open Thread

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Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (6-8) WK 16 MIAMI DOLPHINS (7-7)

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Date: 21 December 2014
Location: Miami, FL
Time: 12:00 PM Central Stadium: Sun Life Stadium
TV: FOX
DirecTV Ch 710
Radio: Vikings Radio Network
XM Ch 225 (MIA)
Sirius Ch 138
TV Announcers: Kenny Albert
Daryl Johnston
Know Thy Foe: The Phinsider
Weather: 79 degrees, winds 10 MPH from SE, 0% chance of rain
Line: Dolphins -6, Over/Under 42 (Thanks to the SB Nation Odds Page)
Chris' Prediction: Vikings 27, Dolphins 24
Final Score:


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Well, it's the final road trip of the year for the Minnesota Vikings, and there are worse places they could be spending the last few days before Christmas than down on South Beach. The weather appears as though it will cooperate today as the Vikings do battle with the Miami Dolphins.

So, what do the Vikings have to do today to keep their chances of getting to .500 alive?

1) Protect Teddy Bridgewater - The Vikings' young quarterback is having a homecoming today, as he grew up in the Miami area and even originally committed to "The U" before changing his mind and going to Louisville. The Dolphins have a very good pass rush, led by Cameron Wake, though they've been in a bit of a drought over the past month or so. Hopefully for the Vikings, offensive tackle Matt Kalil can continue his improved play over the past few weeks and not allow Wake and company to "get well" this afternoon. The Dolphins are 3rd in the NFL in pass defense in terms of yards allowed, but Bridgewater was impressive against a very impressive Detroit defense last week, and can hopefully continue that this week as well.

2) Get after Ryan Tannehill - The Dolphins' third-year starter has played well this season, but the Dolphins have had as many offensive line issues recently as the Vikings have. They lost left tackle Branden Albert for the season, and it appears that right tackle Dallas Thomas will not play today, either. The Dolphins have allowed 38 sacks so far this season, and that number has seen a dramatic increase since Albert's loss. If players like Everson Griffen and the returning Sharrif Floyd can keep Tannehill flustered, it would go a long way towards a Vikings victory.

3) Take care of the football - Last week in Detroit, two big turnovers by Bridgewater led directly to 10 of the Lions' 16 points and were, ultimately, the difference in the loss. The Vikings are now 1-6 in games where they commit at least one turnover this season and 5-1 in games where they don't. Miami is in a bit of a tailspin after getting throttled by New England last week, and rumors are swirling around the status of head coach Joe Philbin. The last thing the Vikings need to do is give the Dolphins any extra opportunities or do things to shift the momentum against them like they did last week in Detroit for the Dolphins to rally around.

If the Vikings can step up and be victorious in today's contest, they stand a very good chance of reaching .500 for the season. . .while, not exactly pie in the sky, is much better than many would have predicted for a Vikings team that played 15 of 16 games without their best player. It would also give the Vikings their third road win of the season, a big jump for a team that went winless away from Minneapolis last season. Here's hoping that our favorite football team can make that happen.

SKOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL VIKINGS!!!!