The Minnesota Vikings have had very few lows this season. Sitting at 10-2 on the season and in 2nd place in the NFC they have proven week in and week out that they are one of the top teams in the NFL. The Vikings have a chance to be the first team in the league to clinch their division if they can get their 11th win of the season on the road this Sunday against the Detroit Lions.
With a playoff berth all but locked up as we move into Week 14, here are some of the keys for the Vikings to turn that regular season success into Vikings playoff success.
First and foremost, it’s the offensive line. Everything starts in the trenches and it’s especially important with the Vikings who don’t have the most mobile of quarterbacks in Kirk Cousins. While Cousins has improved his pocket presence this season, keeping the pocket clean has been key to the team winning games this season.
You don’t need to look any further than their Week 11 matchup vs. the Dallas Cowboys to see how bad it can get if the offensive line struggles. The Vikings gave up seven sacks to the Cowboys in their worst output of the season and managed to only score 3 points in a 40-3 home loss.
Aside from that game, the line has been much improved, giving up 23 sacks combined in their other 11 games.
Another key for the Vikings is winning the turnover margin. They are plus 8 in that category and their worst outing of the season came in their only other loss, a Week 2 defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles. Not only have they been good at protecting the football and taking it away, but their defense has come up with opportunistic plays in crunch time.
Josh Metellus had the game sealing INT vs. Detroit in Week 4, Cam Dantzler had a fumble strip against the Bears to win the game in Week 6, and Patrick Peterson and Cam Bynum’s game sealing interceptions closed the door in their Week 10 and 13 wins vs. Buffalo and New York, respectively. If they can continue to win the turnover margin, there’s no reason to believe this team can’t hang with anyone in the league.
Perhaps the biggest key to postseason success is if the Vikings can sure up their passing defense. The team ranks dead last in the league in passing yards allowed and despite that still find themselves with the 10-2 record. If the Vikings could improve and not give up as many yards through the air, they might find themselves in the super bowl conversation.
This team has looked the part of a bend but don’t break defense, but it also has put a lot of pressure on the offense to put points on the board and hasn’t been able to hold big leads because of it. If the passing defense continues to struggle this badly, they’ll be playing with no room for error and one bad bounce could end their season quickly.