What was once labeled as a throwaway game a few weeks ago has suddenly become one of the more interesting matchups on the docket for week 11.
Minnesota is on a whopping five-game winning streak since starting the season 1-4, becoming one of the better feel-good stories in the NFL.
During their win streak, their defense has been playing lights-out. The Broncos are sixth in EPA per play allowed and seventh in EPA per dropback allowed since week seven.
If the Vikings want to keep their winning streak going, they will need to follow these keys to success against this zoned-in Denver defense.
Get Ty Chandler rolling
Despite their success against the pass during this stretch of three wins, Denver has not had that same success against the run.
In that stretch from weeks seven to ten (week nine bye), the Broncos are 23rd in rushing EPA allowed and tied for last in defensive rushing success rate.
Beating Denver starts on the ground, which may not be the best news for Minnesota.
In that same span, Minnesota is 29th in rushing EPA and 26th in rushing success rate.
This offense still moves the ball without the constant rushing attack because they are so good through the air, but if they want to take that next step, the rushing attack has to get going.
Alexander Mattison is still fighting to get back after being in the concussion protocol earlier this week. He probably won’t be back in time to play on Sunday.
Ty Chandler will probably take on the responsibility of being the featured back with Kene Nwangwu backing him up.
Work the soft spots in zones
Going into week ten, the Broncos played cover-three 40% of the time, the league average is just above 35%.
This means that getting the ball out quickly to the flats and up the seams will be part of the formula to beat Denver’s defense.
How Hockenson won against the New Orleans Saints is the formula to success against the Broncos, as well. Hockenson had eight catches either in the flats or up the seams, including his touchdown grab.
They have to win on the outside to force Denver into more cover-three looks and open up Hockenson in the seams and flats.
Hang on to the football
One of the keys to success for Denver these past few weeks has been their ability to cause turnovers for the offense.
The Broncos are first in the NFL in percentage of opponent’s drives that end in a turnover (30%) during their winning streak.
Their ability to give their offense short fields has led to the offense having the best average starting field position in the NFL. Denver’s average starting position is on their own 38, almost ten yards more than the league average starting position of the 28.5-yard line during that stretch.
Minnesota finally had their first matchup without a turnover against the Saints, which led to the third-most expected points added from the offense this season.
But hanging on to the football needs to be the top priority for the offense. Minnesota can’t afford the happenings of the first three weeks of this season.
Let Dobbs cook
Over the past two weeks, Dobbs has impressively led this offense with both his arms and his legs. Over the past two weeks, he was seventh in adjusted EPA/play and tenth in quarterback success rate among qualified quarterbacks.
Last week, this offense was sixth in passing DVOA for the week, even with his three turnovers against the Atlanta Falcons, this offense was 14th in passing DVOA that week.
While losing Kirk Cousins will still loom large over this season, having Dobbs and his creativity should make for an exciting game this week and an exciting second half of the season.
Dobbs has this passing game humming and with growing familiarity with the offense and his targets, it should continue to get better.
It’s time to let Dobbs cook against the Broncos in Mile High.
The Real Forno Show