This week, I’m coping with the Minnesota Vikings losing to the Detroit Lions by saying it’s “the most Vikings thing to happen” and “if anyone would lose to Detroit, it’d be the Vikings.” So let’s look at the Pittsburgh Steelers game this way: The Vikings are blessed with another chance to have a bounce-back game, now in prime time! Yes, we are masochists!
So let’s dive into how this week will be different (or more of the same) with my two Purple dreams and one Steelers nightmare for this Thursday night slugfest.
KIRK COUSINS GOES BACK TO AIRING OUT THE BALL (AGAIN)
Cousins is solely responsible for the Vikings’ loss to the Lions.
Just kidding, I’m not that much of a hater. But I predicted that the Vikings would win last week if he aired it out, and he did a pretty good job of that. So this Purple dream is actually a criticism of the defense rather than of Cousins.
The 27 points the Lions notched Sunday is the second-highest score they’ve had all year. They lost to the San Francisco 49ers, 41-33, in Week 1. That’s not a great sign for a depleted Vikings defense.
However, what Mike Zimmer’s so-called elite defense (that hurt to write as a Zimmer defender) has going for it is that the Steelers are just as bad, if not worse, than the Lions on offense. PFF ranks them just under Detroit at 28th in the league in overall offense. But the Steelers particularly struggle in the passing game and with run-blocking.
PFF isn’t the end-all-be-all, but if you’ve watched any Steelers games this year, you’ll notice that their offense doesn’t have any spark or standout players. Sure, Diontae Johnson is having a career year, but Ben Roethlisberger looks like he’s already retired, and the offense has stagnated as a result.
I’m gonna sound like a broken record, but the defense needs to step up here because the season – and, frankly, this front office – is teetering on the edge.
BIG BEN DOESN’T SHOW UP
Roethlisberger has had a few good games this year, to be fair. And I mean literally a few. But that doesn’t mean much against the Vikings.
If Roethlisberger has a good game against any team, it will be the Vikings. (Sources: I’ve been a Vikings fan for my whole life and last Sunday happened.) After seeing the secondary performance over the past few weeks, I’m convinced that the rest of this season will be all shootouts, no matter how bad Minnesota’s opponents look.
So this week, I’m dreaming that the Vikings can get lucky and see Roethlisberger at his worst rather than a flash of his former self. It’s almost what the game pivots on because of what Goff was able to do on Sunday. But, to be fair, Goff is rated in the top 32 starting quarterbacks this year. Roethlisberger? He’s 33rd per PFF (min. 107 dropbacks).
THE STEELERS CONTINUE TO DO WHAT THEY DO WELL
The Steelers don’t do a lot well, but what they excel at threatens the Vikings’ chances. The obvious reason for this is T.J. Watt. Uff da.
Watt concerns me because the offensive line is in shambles. Oli Udoh was the freaking left tackle on Sunday. But Watt is a concern, no matter who starts on the line this Sunday.
The Steelers can also run the ball. They aren’t consistently good on this front, though, so that’s why this is a potential ‘nightmare’ this week.
It depends on whether or not Najee Harris lights it up. That’s about the only variable because he’s had some great games and a lot of mediocre games. It’s similar to how Roethlisberger has played.
This one likely depends on how the Steelers play, as unfortunate as that is. But that’s been the case all year. Kyler Murray had a bad game against the Vikings, and they kept it close. Justin Herbert wasn’t good in Week 10. And Russell Wilson didn’t carry the team when the Vikings beat them. The only exception is Aaron Rodgers losing to the Vikings with a nearly perfect game. So let’s just say the Vikings’ season heavily relies on the performance of their opponents rather than themselves. Checks out, right?