Coming off another close victory, the Vikings will hope for a more comfortable win in Week 6 at Miami. With the Dolphins down their starting quarterback, the Vikings look like the much better team on paper; but there is a reason we still play the games. Let’s take a closer look at this Vikings-Dolphins match-up.
Who’s Playing QB For The Dolphins?
The Dolphins’ quarterback situation has dominated the news cycle since Tua Tagovailoa exited their Week 4 match-up against Cincinnati. Journeyman backup Teddy Bridgewater looked decent, but he also went down this past week against the Jets.
Enter Skylar Thompson, a rookie quarterback out of Kansas State, who has now been asked to keep the Dolphins’ season from taking a sharp turn downward. And while he may not strike fear into opposing defenses, the Vikings would do well to take him seriously.
Last week, the box score would suggest the Jets dominated the Dolphins. But the game was 19-17 in favor of the Jets until about halfway through the fourth quarter. Thompson looked poised enough for someone thrown into the fire, and finished 19 for 33, with 166 yards and an interception. After a full week of practice as the Week 6 starter, I suspect he’ll be prepared to build on his first taste of playing time. And he sure does have the offensive weapons to help him out.
Stopping The Dolphins’ Super Speed
Everyone in the NFL has speed, but it seems like the speed on the Dolphins’ roster is next level. Both Tyreek Hill and running back Raheem Mostert are in the top 10 of the fastest 40-yard dash times in NFL history. I do not doubt that even with Skylar Thompson at the helm, coach Mike McDaniel will be able to get the ball into these playmakers’ hands, and the Vikings’ defense will need to be ready.
Against the Jets in Week 5, Raheem Mostert ran for over 113 yards and a touchdown, and his speed was very prominent in the game highlights. He does not need much space to explode for a big gain. Tyreek Hill was less effective against the Jets, posting a modest seven-catch, 47-yard game, but as always looked capable of breaking a big one. Last, I would be remiss not to mention second-year wideout, Jaylen Waddle. Waddle also put up pedestrian numbers, three catches for just 23 yards, but has already made a name for himself as a standout player, fully capable of being a number-one option on most teams without Tyreek Hill.
To Win, The Vikings Need To Keep Their Defensive Shell
A lot has been said about the Vikings’ defense under Ed Donatell. On many occasions, it has appeared to be over-cautious, with the secondary soft in coverage. And while I would like to see more aggressive blitzing, against a team with Tyreek Hill, I’m okay with preventing the big plays this Sunday.
Skylar Thompson did not throw a lot downfield last week against the Jets, and I think the Vikings will be okay with allowing some of the shorter stuff. Now, this is also assuming we build off of our good run defense from last week against the Bears. The Vikings are still just 20th in rushing yards allowed but only gave up 78 to the run-heavy Bears last week. If we can contain Mostert at the line of scrimmage, I’m okay with our deep shell giving up six-yard passes on third and long. Not to mention, a rookie signal-caller is much less of a threat even in softer coverage.
To Win, The Vikings Need To Stop The Dolphins On Third Down
This is such a cliche, but it is imperative to not allow Thompson to gain any sort of rhythm or confidence. One of my favorite stats from the win against the Bears was our dominance in time of possession. The Vikings’ offense should be on the field all of the time, and only slow down if we are up by 30 or more points in the fourth quarter.
We need to limit the Dolphins’ weapons’ opportunities, and we need to avoid letting our defense tire. Further, we don’t want a fluke penalty or trick play to give a momentum boost to the Dolphins. I think this goes hand-in-hand with what a lot of Vikings fans want this week; let’s control this game from start to finish, and let’s win by two scores. There’s your challenge KOC, now get it done!
To Win, The Vikings Need To Be Turnover-Free
The Vikings, to be fair, are plus-one in the turnover margin. However, we have not exactly been takeaway kings on defense. Additionally, the easiest way to allow an inferior team more chances is to turn the ball over. The Vikings have at least one turnover in every game this year except for Week 1, and I want to see them protect the ball all game in Week 6.
Kirk Cousins played pretty well against the Bears, but his interception was at a brutal time of the game. It helped the Bears stay close, and the Vikings have to avoid those mistakes if they are to compete deep into the post-season. This would be one way to help the Vikings make a statement by winning the game by multiple scores.
Let’s Start With A No-Huddle Offense
In a very “not-sneaky” way, I again would love for the Vikings to get the ball first and start on offense. I love that for the past two weeks we have gotten out to early leads, and I cannot overstate how important I think this is.
Or maybe I can. I’m sure anyone who reads my articles is bored with me constantly preaching a quick start, so instead, I’ll call for a “no-huddle” start. I think it would be a great way to get into a rhythm and put points up quickly. Let’s put the Dolphins’ defense on notice, and let them know that there is no way to guard Justin Jefferson. Unless of course, they’d like to send three guys his way, which would only open it up for Adam Thielen, K.J. Osborn, Irv, or even for another Jalen Reagor sighting.
For the Vikings, D.J. Wonnum was the only “did not participate” due to an illness, and RB Alexander Mattison was a limited participant. The injury situation looks pretty good for the Vikings, so just make sure to check back here for updates after the Friday injury report is released.
The Dolphins have much more to worry about injury-wise. T Terron Armstead and RB Raheem Mostert did not participate for the second consecutive day and are the most notable players listed. There is good news in Miami, though, as Tua Tagovailoa was a limited participant for the second straight day.
Final Thoughts And Prediction
I think the Vikings take this one and head into the bye week at 5-1. As objectively as I can view this game, the Dolphins don’t have enough to stop Justin Jefferson and this Vikings’ offense. And while I think Skylar Thompson looked okay in an emergency last week, I am not ready to call him a threat to lead this Miami team to victory.
If the Vikings protect the ball and keep Tyreek Hill and Co. off of the field, I think we will comfortably win this one in South Beach. I like a 34-16 score line, with our offense clicking on all cylinders. I also like our defense to get a minimum of four sacks, and the Dolphins will have to wait until garbage time for their first touchdown.
Otherwise, enjoy your life as a fan of the NFC North-leading Minnesota Vikings! SKOL!