Each week, BringMeTheNews will analyze the Vikings’ upcoming game from both sides, and give you “5 reasons the Vikings will win.” This week the Vikings play their final road game of the season against the Miami Dolphins.
If this is too positive for you, try reading Five reasons the Vikings should be worried about the Dolphins.
5. A 'Sunshine State' homecoming
The Vikings are loaded with Florida natives who are returning for a second in-state homecoming this year. In all, there are six Florida natives on the Vikings roster.
- QB Teddy Bridgewater
- DT Linval Joseph
- CB Jabari Price
- CB Xavier Rhodes
- CB Josh Robinson
- K Blair Walsh
Four additional Vikings (not including Rhodes and Robinson, who were previously listed) played college football in Florida.
- DT Sharrif Floyd
- TE Chase Ford
- QB Christian Ponder
- DE Justin Trattou
4. Rhodes Closed
The Vikings will run into another pair of tough receivers on Sunday, but it's not quite as scary when Xavier Rhodes has been shutting down half of the field.
Rhodes is tied for fourth in the NFL with 17 pass break-ups.
He has matched up against virtually all of the toughest receivers in the NFL. Rhodes has lined up against Jordy Nelson, Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate twice. He has also faced Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery (another time for each of them), Roddy White, Julio Jones, Kelvin Benjamin, Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans.
Maybe Mike Wallace and Jarvis Landry don't seem quite so scary after that.
3. Powering Through
If you have watched the Vikings for years, you have probably said the same thing. Matt Asiata reminds me of (former Vikings running back) Leroy Hoard.
Hoard was famous for saying, "If you need one, I'll get you three. If you need five, I'll get you three."
The same can be said for Asiata, who is averaging 3.3 yards per carry on the season. That's not bad for a guy who was likely the Vikings third option in the backfield to start the year. But with Adrian Peterson's suspension and Jerick McKinnon's season-ending injury, Minnesota has been relying on Asiata.
"Well Matt I think showed, I think he's shown throughout, but he's showed in the game that he's a guy that gives us the best all-around running, catching, (pass) protection," said Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner on Thursday. "He had an outstanding game so I would expect Matt to get the bulk of the work and when there's an opportunity to get someone else in there we'll do it."
Joe Banyard and newly-acquired Ben Tate have also been providing the Vikings with a change of pace in the backfield.
2. The up and comer
Most would have predicted this would have been Cordarrelle Patterson's spot this year, but a different second-year receiver has emerged for Minnesota.
Charles Johnson has been nothing short of amazing in his brief time with the Vikings. He was a no-namer to Vikings fans at the start of the season – it barely made news when they signed him off the Browns practice squad on September 20.
His first game was against Green Bay on Oct. 2 and his first start also against the Packers on Nov. 23. But despite much less playing time than any of the other Vikings receivers, Johnson has quickly become a playmaker. He ranks:
- 1st in yards per catch: 16.0
- Tied for 1st in receptions of 20 yards or more: 8
- Tied for 2nd in receiving touchdowns: 2
- 3rd in receiving yards: 415
- 4th in first down receptions: 16
- 6th in receptions: 26
We can't say for certain, but hopefully after bouncing around early in his career Johnson can get comfortable for awhile in Vikings purple.
1. Tantalizing Teddy
Bridgewater will make his 11th start for the Vikings, a team record for a rookie quarterback.
"It's pretty incredible what he has done, how he's handled it and what he's really done is made everyone around him better," Turner told reporters. "That's the quality you are looking for."
Bridgewater threw two interceptions against Detroit last week, but Turner pointed out that all quarterbacks throw interceptions, including Aaron Rodgers, who also had two interceptions last week at Buffalo.
"We are asking him to carry this group," said Turner. "I've never had to do that."
Bridgewater has completed 63.5 percent of his passes, which would rank him fifth all-time among rookie NFL starters if the season ended now. Ben Roethlisberger owns the rookie record of 66.4 percent.
"I have been pleased, but at the same time I'm not going to sit here and say I'm satisfied," Bridgewater told 1500 ESPN. "Because the expectation level for me and this team is pretty high right now and we know that we could be playing a lot better."