After riding a wave of momentum that saw them beat the Bills on the road before succumbing to Dallas by 40-3, the Vikings will be looking to turn their luck around on Thursday Night Football against the Patriots at home.
New England, which is coming off a last-minute victory in a defensive battle against the Jets understands that a win against the Vikings could mean much more than just another ‘W’ in their column. With the race for the AFC East crown continuing to heat up as the season progresses, Bill Belichick’s team knows that a strong win on the road against one of the favored teams in the NFC is a must.
In a TNF showdown between Minnesota’s explosive offense and New England’s stealthy defense, who will end up taking the victory home?
Discipline Will Be Key for Minnesota
A lot has been said about Minnesota’s flashy playing style, with players like Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook leading the helm. Even after building an 8-2 record, their loss against the Cowboys showed that the one thing this team needs to improve ASAP is discipline.
On offense, Minnesota looked clueless and without a true game strategy to fall back on. From the beginning of the game, Kirk Cousins and company failed to find any rhythm or consistency in their actions. Defensively, the Vikings lacked firepower both up front and in their secondary. Coming from a team that was able to contain Josh Allen and Bill’s offense in the second half the week before, this showing was sad, to say the least.
Against New England, the Vikings will need their main offensive pieces to get going early. Getting Jefferson involved will be of the essence. Even with New England’s strong secondary, Jefferson is one of the best receivers in the NFL. If Cousins can use him for deep plays, all while mixing up the passing game with Adam Thielen and TJ Hockenson on short routes, that could allow Minnesota to gain an edge over New England’s cornerbacks and safeties.
On defense, the strategy has to come back to disciplined and smart football. The Vikings need to take advantage of the fact that Mac Jones is anything but an athletic passer. By breaking through New England’s O-line and pressuring Jones to leave his pocket early and constantly, the Vikings could find the best alternative to beat New England’s already lukewarm offense.
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New England Needs Their Offense to Step Up
In a division with such a high level of competition this season like the AFC East, overlooking the fact that New England has won five of its last six games, including three in a row might come as a slight shock. But here we are, and there is Belichick’s team sitting comfortably with a 6-4 record, which already includes two victories over their divisional rivals Jets, including last week’s 10-3, last-play triumph.
This Patriots team continues to live off however much their defense can do. There’s no better proof of that than last week’s game against New York. With an offense that can’t seem to find true and definitive answers on how to become more efficient, especially in their passing game, the Patriots are all about doubling their efforts on defense and praying for the best everywhere else.
To try and beat the Vikings, the Patriots will have to double down in their secondary to contain Jefferson and the rest of Minnesota’s receivers. Keeping Minnesota’s star receiver under control, while having their front line of defenders play a pressure game against Cousins and running back Dalvin Cook will be the way to go.
On offense, New England cannot afford another performance like last weeks against New York. Even if not explosive, the Patriots need their passing game to come through enormously, just as Dallas had last week in its visit to Minnesota. Between a solid rushing effort on first and second downs from NE’s running backs and a straightforward approach to their passing offense, the Patriots could be able to at least score more than 10 points this week.
Who is Finishing Thanksgiving with the Dub?
After the massacre that was the 40-3 loss against Dallas last week, the Vikings cannot afford a second consecutive loss. It’s one thing if you competitively lose a game, but getting blown out of the water with a 37-point difference is no laughing matter.
A lot will ride on how this Vikings offense manages to bounce back and put on a show once again. But with New England’s offense continuing to be the team’s weakest link, roll with Minnesota to get the win here and continue in its quest for the No.1 seed in the NFC playoff race.
The odds and predictions in the article are based on the time of writing and publication. They may differ as to when the actual event takes place.