In what is shaping up as the toughest test for the Vikings so far as the NFL season enters it’s middle stretch, complete with facing the League’s MVP Patrick Mahomes, The Vikings will look to build off the momentum gained last week in Carolina in a big way.
There are plenty of interesting matchups in this game, and we’ll go over a few of the most important before kickoff at 3:25 PM CST. The game will be broadcast on CBS, likely due to the Chiefs’ affiliation with the AFC in this interconference contest.
Mahomes vs Vikings Linebackers
Last week, Mahomes overcame an uncharacteristic showing against the New York Jets by using his legs when his passing game was very unremarkable, going 18-30 with 203 passing yards and 1 TD and 2 Interceptions.
While his passing game was stifled by great play from the Jets’ outside coverage, New York’s linebackers were causing problems for Mahomes all night long. Mahomes was sacked once by two of the Jets’ linemen. One thing that might have been missed though was the play of the Jets linebackers, especially Quincy Williams and CJ Mosely, who tallied 24 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 3 pass defenses, and a quarterback hit. They were a big reason Mahomes was struggling.
While the Vikings defense has not been playing as well as the Jets’, linebackers Danielle Hunter and the finally-healthy Marcus Davenport will need to have a big game against the Chiefs’ vaunted O-line. Their ability to put pressure on Mahomes and ideally collapse pockets around him will be crucial to keep the best mobile QB in the league contained.
The Vikings LB’s have been the most reliable unit of the Vikings defense by far this year, and Davenport showed last week vs (an admittedly bad) Panthers team what he can bring to the unit: A sorely needed compliment to Danielle Hunter. Davenport is listed as questionable, but I’d be surprised to see him not play at all.
Also, Harrison Smith could also be a valuable component of the pass rush after a career day last week with 3 sacks and a forced fumble (that went for 6) among other contributions.
While it was against the Panthers, the game against a bad opponent finally allowed Brian Flores a good chance to execute his defensive strategy, especially in the second half. Hopefully the Vikes can take those lessons and put them into practice against a MUCH better offensive unit.
Garrett Bradbury (and, probably), Dalton Risner vs Chiefs defensive line.
This will be the first time since the first game of the season that the Vikings will truly be bringing in a healthy offensive line. The fans have also got what we have all been waiting for in the real possibility of seeing Ed Ingram finally replaced by Dalton Risner. HC Kevin O’Connell said that Ingram will start, but everyone will be watching for Risner to get some game time.
We will also have our starting center, Garrett Bradbury, back after exiting the Philadelphia game in Week 2 after only a few snaps. Austin Schlottman wasn’t egregiously bad as a replacement, but there is a reason Bradbury is the preferred starter. I’m sure that regrdless, Bradbury will help the Vikings offensive line regain some sorely needed chemistry and give Cousins more time to find Justin Jefferson and Company.
It is an understatement to say that Cousins will need that time. The Chiefs are heading into this matchup with the 8th ranked total defense, according to Fox, while being slightly better at defending the pass (8th) versus the rush (13th).
A large part of that naturally is earned in the trenches. Bradbury and Co. will be matched up against a D line that has only adjusted to a minor change from their Super Bowl victory, that being D-end George Karlaftis for the departed Frank Clark.
Kansas City has actually scored less sacks then the Vikings this year, and that was something that caused problems as Zach Wilson played well last week. Look for George Karlaftis to potentially change that however, who has the 10th-most QB pressures this year for any player.
Taylor Swift vs the crowd at US Bank
Alright, no stats here. I’m sick of this NFL sideshow and this game is unfortunately going to be filled with all the damn camera cuts to some private box at US Bank Stadium. For those watching on TV, it's our turn to have to endure this circus. Hopefully the Vikings do something about that.
For those of you in the building, I hope you watched the Twins last week. The energy inside Target Field was palpable even through my TV on the other side of the country and implementing that kind of support, not pressure (as we saw in the chaos at the end of the Chargers game) will be key to making this a hostile environment for the Chiefs.