Concerns For The Vikings
The Denver Broncos are coming off their bye week, so they’ve had time to rest, recover, and study how to beat the Vikings.
After starting the season with four straight losses, the Broncos have rebounded by winning three of their past five games, so they are not to be overlooked.
The Broncos placed starting quarterback Joe Flacco on IR and are started rookie third-stringer Brandon Allen for a win against the Browns. That was the only NFL game in which Allen has played, going 12 of 20 for 193 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and he took three sacks.
That’s a nice outing for his first NFL game, so why the concern? Need I mention the Vikings’ track record against backup quarterbacks?
The Broncos’ presumptive quarterback of the future, Drew Lock, has been out since the preseason with a sprained thumb.
Denver’s run defense has improved from 30th in the league after four losses to 17th, averaging 107.6 yards per game.
The Vikings may have Dakota Dozier in at guard for Josh Kline, who did not participate in Wednesday’s practice while recovering from the concussion he sustained against Dallas.
The Vikings will want to ensure they can effectively run against the Broncos because their passing game is dependent upon defenses reacting to the threat of the run. If there is no rushing threat, the play-action game falls apart.
And the Broncos are good at defending the pass.
The Broncos defense is sixth overall in points allowed and fourth in total yards allowed as well as passing yards allowed per game.
After watching Dalvin Cook decimate Dallas with the screen game, you know that Vic Fangio will have his defense on alert for those plays. And with Adam Thielen likely out again this week, expect double teams on Stefon Diggs.
Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. discusses facing former Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak‘s system:
That, of course, leaves Kyle Rudolph, Irv Smith Jr., and Tyle Conklin as keys to the game for the Vikings, both in the run game and as receivers.
Against the Cowboys, Rudolph and Smith caught nine balls between them. two more than Dalvin Cook and six more than Diggs.
Concerns For The Broncos
On the other hand, the Vikings are facing a third-string quarterback with only one game under his belt.
On the other, other hand, the Vikings are facing a running back in Phillip Lindsay who, though effective, is not Ezekiel Elliott, who the Vikes just completely shut down.
On the other, other, other hand, the Vikings are not facing the Cowboys offensive line, one of the best in football.
The Vikings should be able to shut down the Broncos running game and force Brandon Allen to beat them. As we know, the Vikings are superb at disguise on defense, so I would expect to see plenty of blitz looks to confuse Allen and try to force him into mistakes.
Pete Bercich breaks down the Broncos’ offense from last week. (I’ve cued up the clip to spare you unnecessary babble from the intolerable Paul Allen.)
And then there’s the fact that the Vikings are unbeaten at home this year. The place is deafening. For a third-string rookie quarterback, that in itself presents a lot of problems.
This Broncos Blitz podcast is a pretty sophisticated discussion of what challenges Denver faces at US Bank Stadium this Sunday:
Want to feel good about this upcoming match? Listen to the completely dispirited Broncos fans on the Mile High Report podcast:
If they don’t look past the Broncos, this match up should put the Vikings at 8-3 going into the bye.