Prior to the showdown with the undefeated Vikings this week, I go behind enemy lines with Adam Carlson of The Viking Age for some insight on the Texans week five opponent. As well you can read Adam’s questions for me here:
1. Is Sam Bradford capable of leading this team to big things? How has he fit in with the team?
Bradford fills the hole left from the Teddy Bridgewater injury well. He is an accurate quarterback (set Eagles franchise completion percentage record last year) with a great play action that has a strong enough arm to take some shots down the field and test defenses. As long as the offensive line can keep him upright, he should be able to lead the offense to wins when the defense and special teams don’t score points.
2. Adrian Peterson was not having a good season before his injury. Is he done, and who will carry the bulk of the load on the ground?
The Vikings found success using the duo of Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata in the past, and that formula doesn’t look to be changing now that Adrian Peterson is out. Being able to run more plays out of the shotgun formation should be able to help out the passing game due to the makeshift offensive line. The big question is whether or not Adrian Peterson is in the long-term plans of the Vikings, considering his age, injuries, recent ineffectiveness, and massive salary cap hit.
3. The defense has been stellar so far this season, why are they having so much success?
It’s all about buying into head coach Mike Zimmer’s defense. He turned around a team that was absolutely horrible just a few short years ago by bringing in a ton of talent and developing the players on the roster. Much of that had to do with replacing older players with more athletic and physical guys, as well as pairing them with great, established free agents like Terence Newman and Linval Joseph. But there is no denying the impact of guys like Everson Griffen, Anthony Barr, and Harrison Smith.
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4. What is one area that opponents could exploit?
One area where the Minnesota Vikings struggle is when they go up against a team with tall wide receivers. While the cornerbacks are physical and aggressive, they struggle to go one-on-one against the big-bodied targets. This has been apparent each time Minnesota played against the Chicago Bears with Alshon Jeffery. They also struggled against guys like Calvin Johnson. It will be interesting to see how they attack the Texans and DeAndre Hopkins.
5. Does Blair Walsh need to go? What other kickers could be out there/are any of the available options better?
Something needs to happen. Right now, there are really no better alternatives out there. So the Vikings will have to continue rolling with Blair Walsh. But this is a situation that needs to be addressed as soon as this season is over, and competition needs to be brought in if Minnesota isn’t considering an all out change. He’s going to cost the Vikings another win at some time this year. Hopefully it won’t be in a big situation and make Vikings fans hurt even more.
6. What is your predicted final?
If the Texans defense were at full strength, I would consider this game much closer to being a toss-up. However, considering all the injuries Houston has endured, I predict that the Vikings come out of this game victorious. But the Texans will get some big plays, making the game fun for everyone watching.