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In round two of the playoffs, the Minnesota Vikings find themselves on the road again. This time it’s to take on the top seeded San Francisco 49ers, whose first round bye week helped them get rested and healed up.
These teams have had question marks about their success this season even with a winning record on both sides. Both teams will look to shed that stigma and give their next opponent something to really worry about.
Keys To The Game:
Minnesota will definitely look to run the football as much as they did in the Wild Card game but the run plays should be different. The Vikings should try to run towards the edge, involving the defensive ends, outside linebackers and even corners. The rushes that go right up the gut might work for a while but will ultimately play into the defense’s hands.
Stretching the front seven out and making the defensive backs commit to the run is a good way to wear out the 49ers’ defense. It will also give Minnesota the room they need to make pass plays in the middle and down the field.
Minnesota’s defense has to be very disciplined versus a team that loves to run the football. The pass rushers need to keep an eye on draws and trick plays coming out of the backfield. The secondary can’t be fooled on play action and run-pass options, leaving the field open for passes to tight end George Kittle.
The 49ers should look to milk the short pass game as much as possible. Get the Minnesota linebackers matched up against pass catchers in the middle of the field. The short pass game will help Jimmy Garoppolo get the ball out of his hands quickly and keep the chains moving.
With San Francisco’s rushing attack being so stout, the combination of run and short pass will ultimately lead to those big plays down field.
San Francisco should get Deebo Samuel going early and often. He’s a wide receiver that can be used in a multitude of ways and Minnesota could shift their defense if he’s hot early.
Vikings’ wide receiver Adam Theilen made some big plays in the Wild Card round and the same needs to happen this week. He’s likely to get mostly one on one coverage and it will be key for him to win those battles.
The 49ers have a great team but they love to walk a tight rope in big games. I’ll take San Francisco slightly over Minnesota, 27-24.