Vikings

PREDICTION: Vikings vs Dolphins

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Becker (USA Today Sports)

The Minnesota Vikings have used up their mulligans. Now it’s crunch time as they host the Miami Dolphins hoping to begin a winning three-game stretch that can lock up a playoff spot.

Before predicting the outcome, here’s all the content you might have missed this week.

A look at how Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs were once again neutralized in a loss to the Seahawks.

How 2018 is turning into 2016.

Outlining how Xavier Rhodes has essentially been the exact same player this year as the two previous seasons.

Examining Mike Priefer’s comments on the downfalls of Blair Walsh and Daniel Carlson.

Will the Dolphins experience a letdown after their miracle victory?

How Kevin Stefanski should be tasked with ending Kyle Rudolph’s red zone drought.

And for your listening pleasure, this week’s Football Machine with Arif Hasan, Luke Inman, Cy Amundson and me.

Injury Situation

For Minnesota: Only WR Chad Beebe (hamstring) has been ruled out, while David Morgan (knee), Sheldon Richardson (hip) and Mike Remmers (low back) are questionable. Of the three, Morgan is likely the biggest question mark since he hasn’t played since Nov. 4. Corner Trae Waynes will return after missing the Seattle game with a concussion.

For Miami: Interception co-leader Xavien Howard is doubtful with a knee injury, which could be a huge loss for Miami. Safety T.J. McDonald is questionable with an ankle injury.

Key stat

The Dolphins are a bottom-five team on offensive third downs (31st)¬†and defensive third downs (28th). That’s the perfect formula for the Vikings to get right considering they are first in third-down defense and 21st in third-down offense. There should be opportunities to convert against the Dolphins’ banged-up secondary.

Two X-Factors

For Minnesota: If he’s active, David Morgan will add a greatly-missed dimension in the running game. He is on the team for his run blocking, especially in short yardage. That part of the Vikings’ offense has been lacking since his injury as Minnesota is 21st in short-yardage first-down percentage over the past four weeks.

For Miami: Thirty-three-year-old veteran Danny Amendola is still an effective receiver and needs to get reintegrated after two quiet games where he was limited with a knee injury. Amendola was averaging 45 yards per game before getting hurt on Nov. 25. As he gets healthier, he’ll be another viable receiving option for Ryan Tannehill.

Prediction

The Dolphins have been lousy on the road, losing their last five consecutive by an average of over 16 points.

No game is loser-proof, though, as the Vikings have learned. They’ll require much better offensive play, and they’ll need to get it from a first-time playcaller.¬†Look for a few new wrinkles in the gameplan Sunday from Stefanski.

If nothing else, the Vikings defense should be able to keep the Dolphins at bay to take the pressure off the offense. Minnesota will win to keep its playoff hopes strong.

Vikings 27, Dolphins 16


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