The Minnesota Vikings are looking to make it to 5-0 this week as they take on the Houston Texans this Sunday at U.S Bank Stadium. Unfortunately for the Vikings, they may be without star receiver Stefon Diggs and right-tackle Andre Smith, as they both sustained injuries in last week’s win over the New York Giants. These injuries will provide large shoes to fill, but with Mike Zimmer’s next man up mentality, it shouldn’t be anything that the purple can’t overcome. Here’s a preview of the week five matchup against the Houston Texans.
Bill O’Brien takes over offensive play-calling duties
After taking over for offensive coordinator George Godsey as the play-caller last week, the Texans offense moved the ball much more effectively than in the weeks prior. In fairness the Texans played a weak Titans defense with a depleted secondary, but the results speak for themselves. This change will make for an intriguing battle of wits between defensive guru Mike Zimmer calling the defensive plays against the newly appointed offensive play-caller in O’Brien who’s certainly no slouch himself.
Brock Osweiler uncomfortable facing pressure
Since taking over as the starting quarterback for the Texans, Osweiler has exhibited cases of the “happy feet” upon facing pressure in the pocket. When he’s pressured even a little bit, he becomes flustered and becomes prone to make mistakes with the football. This will be something that the Vikings defense will look to exploit in order to prevent Osweiler from building a connection with his cache of receivers and hopefully create turnovers in the process. If the Vikings can put on the same sort of pressure that they have been in the weeks prior, look for Osweiler to throw at least two picks on Sunday.
With Diggs doubtful for Sunday’s game, look for Thielen and Patterson to pick up the slack
Losing Diggs on Sunday would be another twist of fate in a season that has had too many to count. Luckily the Vikings have receivers that are more than capable of picking up the slack. Cordarrelle Patterson and Adam Thielen will likely be the receivers that see the field the most in Diggs’ absence, and will likely be used as the outside receivers with Jarius Wright working out of the slot. Look for Charles Johnson to also be in the mix as he could become Bradford’s favorite target with his large catch-radius. Depending on how the game is going, we may even see rookie Laquon Treadwell finally get his chance to show what he’s got.
Offensive-line needs to build on last week’s success
After playing their best collective game of the season last Monday against the Giants, it will be crucial for the Vikings offensive line to build on its success and win the battle at the line of scrimmage against the Texans defense. Even without superstar J.J. Watt, the Texans defense is no joke and can dominate an inferior offensive line with guys like Vince Wilfork and Jadeveon Clowney. Backups Jeremiah Sirles and T.J. Clemmings filling in at right and left tackle will have to be at their absolute best in order to keep Sam Bradford upright and comfortable in the pocket.
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