The Denver Broncos’ defense can make a statement against the Minnesota Vikings with a big performance. What do they need to do to get the W?
With the way they have played since Vic Fangio made some adjustments to the depth chart after an 0-4 start, the Denver Broncos’ defense is certainly capable of making some noise on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, a game the Broncos are expected to lose by double digits.
The low expectations for the Broncos factor in the defense, of course, but it’s the offense that very few people have faith in.
That, and the Broncos are heading on the road to face off against one of the league’s toughest teams both offensively and defensively, the Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikings have the 8th-ranked offense in the NFL overall, the 3rd-ranked passing attack, and the 9th-ranked scoring offense.
Their defense is also tough, ranking 5th in the NFL in points allowed and 11th in turnovers forced. The Vikings are balanced on both sides of the ball, and they are forcing opposing teams to respect the run in such a dramatic way that the offense has 18 passing touchdowns despite ranking 32nd in the NFL in pass attempts this season.
The Broncos’ defense under Vic Fangio has mostly done a good job of forcing teams to adjust to at least one area of their offense being shut down. Since the Broncos gave up nearly 270 yards on the ground to the Jacksonville Jaguars in week four, the Broncos have really forced teams to beat them with the passing attack, shutting down the run and limiting big plays on the ground.
It may seem simplistic and is definitely easier said than done, but if the Broncos can force this game into the hands of Kirk Cousins, the Vikings are not only susceptible to losing, they are at their absolute weakest offensively.
In their three losses this season, the Vikings have rushed for 198, 40, and 96 yards respectively. In those games, they also turned the ball over a total of six times.
Kirk Cousins was responsible for four of those with a pair of interceptions and a pair of fumbles lost.
Simply put, putting the game in Kirk Cousins’ hands gives the Broncos the best chance to win, and pressuring Cousins has all sorts of benefits. Not only does he have a propensity for throwing interceptions when the game is in his hands, but Cousins also has a long history of fumbling the football.
He has 16 in 26 games with the Vikings, and had 31 in his previous three seasons with the Vikings.
With only three interceptions this season compared to 18 touchdowns, it’s clear that Cousins has taken a huge step forward in terms of ball security with his throws, but the Broncos’ secondary is a different breed compared to anything the Vikings will have seen this season.
Even without projected starter Bryce Callahan, Denver’s secondary has been outstanding as Vic Fangio’s defense has developed, and the Broncos rank fourth in the NFL in passing yards allowed and second in the league with just eight passing touchdowns allowed in nine games.
This Denver defense has struggled to create a lot of turnovers, but that could be the key to beating this Vikings team defensively along with stopping the run. The domino effect of limiting Dalvin Cook is that the ball is forced into Kirk Cousins’ hands, and the more the ball is in Kirk Cousins’ hands compared to Dalvin Cook’s, the better for the Broncos.
This defense has a chance to make a statement in this game, not only by limiting Cook to less than 100 yards rushing (which Fangio did twice in Chicago last season) but also putting pressure on Cousins and forcing him to make bad decisions with the football.