Vikings Final Push for Playoff Berth Begins Sunday Against the Jaguars

The final push for the Vikings in the hopes of earning a playoff spot begins this Sunday when the team goes on the road to take on the struggling Jacksonville Jaguars.  With only four games remaining on the schedule, any room left for error is gone as the Vikings find themselves on the outside looking in on a tight NFC Playoff picture.  A loss on Sunday would be the final nail in the coffin to a season that once held Super Bowl aspirations.

Vikings defense should be in for a big day

It would be unfair to call any game on an NFL schedule a “cakewalk,” but in the case of the Jacksonville Jaguars, it seems fitting.  Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles enters this week as the league leader in interceptions thrown with 15 and counting.  Expect that number to be very close to 20 by the time the Vikings head back to Minnesota.

In order to create turnovers, the Vikings defensive line will need to pick up where they left off last week in their impressive performance against the league’s best offensive line in the Dallas Cowboys.  The offensive line in front of them this week is anything but elite, which presents a golden opportunity for guys like Brian Robison and Everson Griffen to bully Bortles and force him into making mistakes with the football.

Large shoes to fill at the Free Safety position

The Vikings defense will be without safety Harrison Smith this week and possibly beyond due to a severe left-ankle sprain.  Filling in for the veteran will likely be Anthony Harris, who has performed well in these kinds of situations in the past.

If Harris is yanked due to lackluster play or injury, it may be up to veteran cornerback Terence Newman to fill in at the free safety position as he did last season against the Arizona Cardinals. Rookie Jayron Kearse might be in the mix as well depending on where Zimmer’s level of trust lies in him after his poor performance against the Chicago Bears earlier this season.

Zimmer is back 

After being forced to sit out last Thursday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys due to an emergency eye surgery, Head Coach Mike Zimmer will be back calling the defensive plays this week when the Vikings travel to Jacksonville.

Zimmer’s elite defensive play-calling is an under-appreciated aspect to the success of this defense during his reign as head coach.  His return will be a major asset in the Vikings’ final push for a playoff spot.

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