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5 reasons the Vikings should worry about Buffalo

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Each week, BringMeTheNews will analyze the Vikings’ upcoming game from both sides, and give you “5 key reasons the Vikings should be worried.” This week the Vikings hope to shake off another disappointing performance when they travel to Buffalo to face the Bills.

For 5 key reasons the Vikings will win, click here.

5. Bills tough upfront

First it was a run against the best quarterbacks in the league, now its a run against some of the best defensive lines in the league. The Buffalo Bills have one of the toughest defenses in the NFL. They come into the game ranked 11th overall and have the NFL's top-ranked run defense.

Not a great sign for a Vikings team that still needs to establish a consistent running attack to win.

Buffalo has been beaten through the air but the one thing they do really well is rush the passer, and considering Minnesota gave up eight sacks last week to Detroit and six the week before to Green Bay – that should be a concern.

Buffalo ranks second in the NFL with 19 sacks on the year.

4. It's been a long time

The Vikings and Bills don't play very often – just once every four years. But the last time the Vikings won in Buffalo:

  • Bill Clinton was President
  • Arne Carlson was Minnesota's Governor
  • Tom Kelly was still the Twins manager
  • Randy Moss was still in college
  • and Dennis Green was the Vikings head coach

The year, was 1997.

By the way, that day Brad Johnson threw for 218 yards and a pair of touchdowns and Robert Smith ran for 169 yards and a score as the Vikings opened the season with the 34-13 win.

The good news is that the Vikings are 4-3 all time in Buffalo.

3. Receiver let down

The Vikings passing game hasn't lived up to it's billing so far.

A group that was going to have to be counted on without Adrian Peterson in the mix, hasn't done much of anything the last couple of weeks.

The Associated Press notes the Vikings rank 30th in passing offense and lead the league in dropped passes. More frustrating is that Minnesota hasn't had a passing touchdown in a month since Matt Cassel hit Matt Asiata on the opening drive of the New England game.

Cordarrelle Patterson and Greg Jennings combined to catch just five passes last week against Detroit, and Patterson has caught just two passes in each of the last three games.

They were challenged after the game by Vikings coach Mike Zimmer to get open.

"We're going to take it personal," Patterson told reporters on Thursday. "I feel like they're not really trusting us right now. So we got to go in and show them what we're all about. We got to make everybody else start believing in us and maybe we'll get more touches and things will change around here."

But here's some context for why the group might be struggling:

  • Kyle Rudolph is out as he recovers from hernia surgery
  • Patterson is bothered by a hip injury
  • Jerome Simpson was released after the team learned of another drug arrest

2. 'Lookout Blocking'

A "lookout block" is when one of the offensive linemen yells back to the quarterback to "Look out!"

That's something that's been happening a lot the past two weeks for the Vikings.

Teddy Bridgewater this week took the blame for the eight sacks in the Vikings loss to Detroit. Bridgewater told reporters that he needs to play faster and get the ball out quicker.

But as ESPN's Ben Goessling points out, while it's nice of Bridgewater to say that, it's not really the case. Bridgewater was among the league's fastest at getting the ball out last week. ESPN reports that Bridgewater averaged releasing the ball in 2.49 seconds – the ninth fastest time among the 30 quarterbacks who played last week.

That's not to say there weren't some instances where Bridgewater could have gotten rid of the ball quicker, but four of the eight times he was sacked were on third downs when the Vikings needed more than just a few yards.

Coach Mike Zimmer talked about some possible personnel changes, but the Star Tribune's Master Tesfatsion says there just aren't that many options to replace any benched lineman.

"For who? Seriously, for who? I keep getting this question, and it's always the same responses. Joe Berger. David Yankey. Austin Wentworth.

If the Vikings replace any of their starters for one of those three names, fans will still complain when they play poorly. The Vikings don't have better options at this point, especially with right guard Brandon Fusco out for the season."

The sacks and turnovers have been a big factor in determining wins and losses.

1. Orton leading Buffalo's offensive revival

It has been a while since fans have worried about the offense of the Buffalo Bills, but it appears that things are headed in the right direction in Orchard Park, New York.

Buffalo made a switch at quarterback and benched last year's rookie first-round draft pick E.J. Manuel in favor of veteran journeyman Kyle Orton.

The results have been striking.

With Orton at the helm, Buffalo's passing offense has responded. In four games under Manuel the Bills were completing just 58 percent of their passes and were averaging only 6.4 yards per attempt.

In the two games under Orton Buffalo has been completing nearly 67 percent of its passes and is averaging more than 7.5 yards per attempt.

Furthermore, tight end Scott Chandler has become a focal point of the Bills offense. He was targeted just 13 times in Manuel's four games, but in the last two Chandler has been targeted 15 times with Orton.

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