Off another exciting win at home, the Vikings are in the midst of preparations for yet another game against a nasty AFC North opponent this week. On Sunday the 6-0 Vikings will battle the 4-2 Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field, a place opponents have entered and come out victorious on only 3 of the last 19 occasions.
Yes, the defending Super Bowl champs are an impressive 16-3 at home over the last 2+ seasons. They are led by head coach Mike Tomlin, whom Vikings fans remember well from his time as the Purple’s defensive coordinator in 2006. With the Vikings on Brad Childress’ inaugural staff, Tomlin led a defense that was #1 against run. Now as Pittsburgh’s boss, Tomlin has continued a tradition of stingy defense in the Steel City.
Currently, Pittsburgh is ranked 3rd in overall defense, allowing just 275.2 yards of total offense per game, and they rank 2nd in the NFL against the run (74.5) and 12th against the pass (200.7). Only 2 teams (Denver and Minnesota) sack opposing QBs more than Pittsburgh (they have 17).
Offensively, the Steelers don’t fall into the traditional mold of excellent defensive teams who then like to pound the ball on the ground. Led by QB Ben Roethlisberger, the offense is best when it takes to the air. Pittsburgh is 2nd in passing offense, averaging 296.7 yards per game, and 5th in overall offense with 403.7 yards per game. But don’t think this team can’t balance it out with a good ground game, too. Second-year RB Rashard Mendenhall has taken over as the starting runner and he possesses a nice blend of power and speed. The Steelers are the league’s 15th best rushing team, but that might be trending upward with Mendenhall now as the bell cow.
As impressive as the Steelers have been at home lately and as solid as they are along the line of scrimmage, in the run game and on defense, the Vikings also boast some firepower and have a few of their own positive trends to site.
RB Adrian Peterson bolted to the top of the league rushing charts last week with an impressive 143-yard day against Baltimore. He leads the NFL in rushing with 618 yards and he’s 2nd in rushing TDs with 7. To balance out their powerful ground game, the Vikings have the league’s 3rd-highest rated passer, as Brett Favre has compiled a 109.5 passer rating.
On top of the individual statistical success, the Vikings are obviously playing well as a team and have an undefeated record to prove it. The Vikings have won 15 of their last 18 regular season games, including their last 7 regular season games dating back to last year. Minnesota has also won its last 6 road games dating back to last year and they can tie the franchise record for consecutive road wins with a victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Tags: Adrian Peterson
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