The Vikings’ victory over the Ravens on Friday showed us what kind of team they are likely going to be this year and it looks like they are going to be a legitimate contender for the playoffs and division title this year. While the offense isn’t going to scare anyone (and I mean anyone) the defense is going to be good enough, and opportunistic enough to cover for it. One thing that has been obvious is that this team is remarkably similar to last year’s team, in that the offense doesn’t have the talent to win games, but the defense does. Whether or not the offense can have enough success and the defense can make enough plays to get the Vikings a playoff berth will depend on a few things, most of which went the Vikings’ way today. The Vikings success each game in the following three categories will go a long way toward determining
- Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers
The difference between victories and losses last year was whether or not the defense put points on the board. And that was the difference in the first half, with Smoot housing a Steve McNair pass and the first team offense was unable to sustain a drive. The flip side to this is that the offense can’t turn it over. One of the arguments for keeping Brad Johnson over Daunte is that he’s better at not making game changing mistakes. If he does make those mistakes, the Vikings are going to be in trouble.
- Sustained Pressure
The Vikings’ defensive line shut down the Ravens’ offense on Friday, and their ability to do so will be a key to the season. The pressure that Kenechi Udeze and the Williams boys put on Steve McNair was the key to the Ravens inability to pass in the first half. And, while Jamal Lewis did not play, the D-line and the linebackers shut down the Ravens rushing game, swarming to the ball and holding the running backs to 11 yards in the first half.
- Success in the Running Game
This is the one aspect of their formula for winning that the Vikings have yet to have success with. Chester Taylor has been something less than a dominant back so far, averaging only 2.1 yard per carry, pretty much par for the course this preseason. The running game has to be successful for the offense to work. Brad Johnson is not carrying this team to the playoffs.