Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- Justin Jefferson needs 194 receiving yards to break Calvin Johnson’s single season receiving yardage record.
- The Vikings can regain the two-seed out of the NFC with a win and a 49ers loss – expect max effort with the 49ers playing in the afternoon.
- The Vikings are likely to play with their third-string center and various injuries along the offensive line.
- Justin Fields has been shut down for the season, narrowly missing out on the record for most rushing yards in a season from a quarterback.
- Nathan “Pick” Peterman will start for the Bears, which is likely to fundamentally change how their offense is run with the team moving from one of the most mobile and dynamic quarterbacks in the league to a pocket passer.
How minnesota Will Try To Win ::
We should see a standard Vikings game plan this week considering they can regain the two-seed with a win and a San Francisco loss, and the Vikings play in the early time slot while the 49ers play in the afternoon. As such, expect the same pass-balanced offense that utilizes the short-to-intermediate areas of the field for most of their aerial work and a backfield primarily running through workhorse back Dalvin Cook. Expect an offense run primarily from 11-personnel, with Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, K.J. Osborn, and T.J. Hockenson seeing the vast majority of the work throughout. Finally, the Vikings operate one of the fastest offenses in the league, ranking third in overall pace of play, fourth in situation neutral pace of play, and second in pace of play with the score within six points.
Dalvin Cook regained his workhorse status this season after seeing his usage and snap rate decline last year. To highlight just how much he is relied on in this backfield, consider this – Dalvin Cook has seen 75% or more of the offensive snaps in every non-blowout game since Week 6, averaging 21.75 running back opportunities across those eight games. For comparison’s sake, that’s more than three opportunities per game more than Saquon Barkley is averaging this season. The primary knock to Dalvin’s game this season has been an offensive line ranked 27th in run-blocking metrics, which has kept Dalvin from routinely eclipsing the 100-yard bonus. Those worries largely go out the window against the Bears, with the matchup yielding an above average 4.48 net-adjusted line yards metric against a defense ceding 29.2 DK points per game to opposing backfields.
Justin Jefferson needs 194 receiving yards to break Calvin Johnson’s single-season record. While that doesn’t necessarily mean we should expect Jefferson to see an increase to his already-lofty target expectation on a per-play basis, it does leave open the possibility that Jefferson could continue playing into the fourth quarter in a blowout game environment if he is approaching that milestone. Again, not likely to influence play calling more as it could allow Jefferson to remain in the game when other starters are pulled late. Similarly, we shouldn’t expect Kirk Cousins to approach the 48 and 54 pass attempts he held the two weeks prior to last week’s trouncing at the hands of the Packers, but the season average of 39.9 pass attempts per game gives us a solid baseline from which to base our expectations. All of that to say, I see no reason to expect any departure from the 12-16 target range for Jefferson in a matchup that he should absolutely destroy. Consider Jefferson one of the top one or two on-paper plays on the slate. Behind Jefferson are the standard culprits for the Vikings, with Thielen being held under six targets in four of his last five games, K.J. Osborn seeing five or fewer targets in all but four games this season, and T.J. Hockenson confined to a low aDOT role that requires both schemed usage and touchdowns in order to return a GPP-viable score.