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Vikings vs. Patriots: Three things to watch

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Imagine if the Nordic Vikings and the Patriots of 1776 had a massive battle, now that’d be bloody and fun to watch

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

Stormy weather in the forecast for Sunday in Foxborough only means one of two things: It’s going to get delayed, or it’ll be a classic, old-school, black and blue matchup. Let’s hope for the second thing.

Another true test for the Vikings will come Sunday afternoon when Minnesota faces the Patriots. Everyone knows Bill Belichick and the Pats are practically unbeatable at home in December. Also, it’s a fact that Minnesota has struggled against teams with winning records, but have proved that the Vikes can hang with teams like Los Angeles.

Can the Vikings have a full complete game this week? We’ll have to see. Here’s this week’s three things to watch for:

Vikings’ pass rush

In order for MInnesota’s defense to be successful, the Vikings have to put the pressure on Tom Brady. From the words of Coach Yoast from ‘Remember the Titans’, “You blitz all night.”

That’s what the Vikings need to do; Blitz all night.

The Pats’ offensive line has been pretty solid for the most part this year and is coming off a strong performance against the New York Jets from a week ago. In fact, the line was so good that it received Offensive Line of the Week honors from NFL.com.

New England didn’t allow one sack last week, and only surrendered one quarterback hit. Getting to Brady won’t be easy, as New England’s line was ranked third in pass-protection by Pro Football Focus.

However, the Vikings pass rush is currently ranked 6th and the pass defense is ranked 5th, only allowing 221 yards per game. Overall, the Vikings defense is ranked 3rd, giving up 314 yards per game. It sort of seems like the reincarnation of the 2017 defense that everyone was yapping about.

Utilizing Patterson

It’s been a few years now since Cordarrelle Patterson suited up with the Vikings. He’s had a bumpy road, but New England seems to be utilizing Patterson well when needed. He may not be very productive in the passing game, but the coaching staff understands Patterson’s speed, and has become a factor in the run game because of it.

Patterson had far better receiving numbers in Oakland last season than he does this year. In 11 games, he’s averaged only 10.9 receiving yards a game. He’s only recorded 13 receptions for 120 yards and two touchdowns. Patterson has carried the ball 37 times for 156 yards and a touchdown.

I’m not saying Patterson is a huge factor, it’s just Belichick seems to know how to use Patterson in the offense, something the Vikings and even Oakland struggled with. I’m just not hoping it turns into a performance by Patterson where it leaves some fans saying, “you gotta be poopin’ me, right?” Because we all know there are those fans who will stoop to that level.

Can Cousins stay ‘cool’ under pressure?

Everyone’s wrapped up in the whole Brady is the G.O.A.T discussion, but what seems to be surfacing is the statistically better season Kirk Cousins is having compared to Brady. Cousins also seems to be doing a helluva job when it comes to completing the ball when being pressured. Can that continue?

Cousins noticeably has had more passing attempts while under pressure than Brady, and still managed to get the ball in the hands of his receivers more frequently. Although Cousins has thrown more interceptions, he still has a better QB rating than Brady.

Just to compare overall— Cousins has 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions to Brady’s 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Cousins has thrown for 3.289 passing yards to Brady’s 3,031. Just a side note: It would be awesome to watch Brady get all flustered because of the pressure from the purple defense.

Predictions:

  • Cousins and Brady throw for a combined 650 yards.
  • No serious injuries this week (fingers crossed).
  • Defense will sack Brady three times
  • Anthony Harris and Holton Hill will be stout.
  • Vikings win 27-21