Wayne Larrivee's Packers-Vikings scouting report II: When Minnesota has the ball

 

You might not realize this but the Vikings have one of the better offenses in the NFL despite the injury loss of starting QB Sam Bradford and rookie phenom Dalvin Cook.

The stats:

18.6 points per game (19th) — They are up and down scoring; they scored 34 points in winning efforts in weeks one and three, but were held to single digits weeks 2 and 4 before managing 20 in the win at Chicago.

357.0 yards (9th); 5.7 yards per play (9th) — The Vikings put 494 yards of offense on the board against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week three.

118.2 rushing yards (11th), 4.2 yards per rush (13th), 58 yard long with four touchdowns - Despite the loss of Dalvin Cook, the Vikings rushed for a season high 159 rushing yards at Chicago Monday. They run at a 44.6% rate.

229.2 passing yards (13th), 66.7% completion rate, 7.7 yards per pass attempt (8th), 7 TD's, 0 Int's, 104.0 passer

9 sacks (9th in sacks per pass play)

44.8% on third down conversion (7th), 0-4 on fourth downs

Sam vs. Case

Are the Vikings better off with Case Keenum or Sam Bradford as their quarterback the rest of the season? 

Case Keenum replaced Sam Bradford in the 2nd quarter of Week 5 at Chicago.

Per head coach Mike Zimmer: Bradford “aggravated” his knee injury when he was tackled, but is “hopeful” with his status moving forward.
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Per team trainer Eric Sugarman: Bradford has “wear and tear on his knee joint” related to his two previous knee surgeries, but an MRI confirmed no new injury.

Keenum has been sacked on just 3.2 percent of dropbacks this season (4th-lowest rate among qualified QBs) while Sam Bradford has been sacked on 10.4 percent of dropbacks (2nd-highest rate).

Keenum has been pressured on 36.0 percent of dropbacks; Bradford has been pressured on 29.2 percent of dropbacks.

According to several reports, Teddy Bridgewater is expected to be activated from the PUP list after Week 6. Minnesota has until Week 11 to activate Bridgewater for this season.

Matchups

An improved Vikings offensive line vs. the Packers defensive front

The Vikings offensive line looks much different in 2017 than it did the previous season. The Vikings added veteran free agents LT Riley Reiff (Detroit) and RT Mike Remmers (Carolina) and shuffled their interior line positions. 

The revamped unit, under offensive line coach Tony Sparano, helped the Vikings amass 470 yards of offense in the season opener vs. New Orleans and paved the way for the Vikings to have a 100-yard rusher, 100-yard receiver and a 300-yard passer in a season opener for the 1st time in team history.
 
Joe Berger is the most experienced returner to the line, opening 12 games at center in 2016 and two at guard. He moves to right guard in 2017 as rookie Pat Elfein will take over at center.

The Packers need to get Nick Perry or Clay Matthews off the edge against Remmers at right tackle. Riley at left tackle has also had his struggles against explosive pass rushers, and as we’ve seen, Matthews still has some explosion to his game.

Vikings wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen vs the Green Bay secondary.

Stefon Diggs & Adam Thielen lead all WR tandems in receiving yards (787 combined rec yards) this season. The duo has been targeted 76 times in five games, producing 52 receptions 787 yards and 4 touchdowns. But at Chicago Monday night, the duo combined for just 38 receiving yards.

A good share of these numbers came in an impressive game one victory over the New Orleans Saints opening weekend. A healthy Sam Bradford was electric that night, passing for 346 yards completing 27 of 32 passes (84.3%) with 3 TD passes and a passer rating of 143.0.

Diggs had 7 receptions 93 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Thielen had 9 receptions for 157 yards. 
 
The other game that stands out came two weeks later in a blowout of the Tampa Bay Bucs with Case Keenum at the helm for the always-injured Sam Bradford.

Keenum had similar numbers to what Bradford posted in week one. Case completed 25 of 33 for 369 yards (76% )with 3 touchdowns and a passer rating of 142.1. 

Getting a handle on these two receivers won’t be easy for the Packers. Last year, Diggs torched the Green Bay secondary for 182 yards on 9 receptions and a touchdown week two, while Thielen burned the Packers for 202 yards on 12 catches and two touchdowns last December.  

Depending on who is healthy, Kevin King (if he plays, at this time he is in the concussion protocol) and Davon House would shoulder much of the coverage against this tandem, but also Damarious Randall who was burned in Minneapolis by Diggs last year will get some turns again this weekend. 
 

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