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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Position-by-position: How the Vikings match up against the Bills

By Matthew Coller

The 1-0-1 Minnesota Vikings match up with the 0-2 Buffalo Bills on Sunday afternoon at US Bank Stadium. Here’s how the two teams compare position-by-position (all stats via Pro Football Focus and Pro-Football Reference):

Quarterback

Sep 16, 2018; Green Bay, WI, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) looks to throw a pass under pressure from during the first quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings starter: Kirk Cousins

Cousins didn’t get the win in Lambeau, but he did walk out of Green Bay with some more street cred. Throwing for 425 yards, four touchdowns and leading a fourth-quarter comeback against Aaron Rodgers was significant for Cousins to quickly show his teammates that the Vikings are simply capable of more offensively with him under center than they were with Case Keenum. His day in Green Bay required big-time throws in tough situations on the road. It turned out to be the highest graded single game of his career by Pro Football Focus.

Bills starter: Josh Allen

Allen is facing an impossible task matching up with the Vikings defense at US Bank Stadium. The Bills’ first-round draft pick has completed just 50.0 percent of his passes, thrown one touchdown and two interceptions in two appearances — both of which were blowout losses. The former Wyoming quarterback has a cannon arm and exceptional athleticism, but struggles with accuracy and processing. His lack of experience combined with a weak supporting cast puts him in an impossible spot against the most stacked defense in the NFL.

Advantage: Vikings

Running back

Dec 17, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Latavius Murray (25) celebrates his touchdown in the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings starter: Latavius Murray

With Dalvin Cook out this week, the Vikings turn to their No. 2 running back Latavius Murray. Last year, Murray was asked to step in as the team’s starter for the majority of the season with Cook recovering from an ACL injury and performed well, gaining 842 yards and scoring nine touchdowns. Murray showed big-play ability, 21 times gaining more than 10 yards on a rush and picking up 2.5 yards after first contact.

We may see Mike Boone or Roc Thomas for the first time in their careers. Both showed an ability in preseason to catch the ball out of the backfield.

Bills starter: LeSean McCoy

McCoy is officially listed as questionable, but assuming he plays, the veteran running back remains a dangerous threat out of the backfield in the passing game. He only has five receptions thus far, but has grabbed 50-plus passes in five seasons over his career. The Bills’ struggles on the offensive line and at quarterback have held back McCoy’s production early this season.

Advantage: Even

Wide receiver/tight end

Sep 16, 2018; Green Bay, WI, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) rushes with the football after catching a pass as Green Bay Packers cornerback Tramon Williams (38) defends during the second quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings starters: Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Laquon Treadwell, Kyle Rudolph

In two games, Diggs and Thielen have combined for 30 receptions, 404 yards and four touchdowns. Par for the course for the league’s best tandem. Where they need more production is from the No. 3 spot, where Laquon Treadwell has dropped as many passes as he’s caught this season. Rudolph has subtly been a huge part of the Vikings’ offense, catching eight passes for 83 yards. John DeFilippo has used him as a chess piece, even having the veteran tight end lining up as a wide receiver at times.

Bills starters: Kelvin Benjamin, Zay Jones, Andre Holmes, Charles Clay

The last time Benjamin went against Xavier Rhodes, he was shut out. So far, he only has three receptions on 10 targets — not exactly backing up his Cam Newton-related trash talk from the preseason. Jones is a 2017 second-round pick from East Carolina. He has yet to find his stride with the Bills’ offense and Clay looks like his best days are behind him.

Advantage: Vikings

Offensive line

Oct 9, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Vikings tackle Mike Remmers (74) in action during a game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings starters: Riley Reiff – Tom Compton – Brett Jones – Mike Remmers – Rashod Hill

It appears starting center Pat Elflein will get an opportunity to play on Sunday, but it’s unclear how many snaps he will take. While the Vikings’ O-line has struggled at times with run blocking, their overall protection of Cousins has been passable. They have given up four sacks and 28 total pressures in two games. Reiff is off to a terrific start to the season, giving up just four hurries, zero hits and zero sacks.

Bills starters: Dion Dawkins – Vladmir Ducasse – Ryan Groy – John Miller – Jordan Mills

Even with opposing teams calling off the dogs in blowouts, the Bills have still given up 30 QB pressures in two games and their run blocking has been abysmal. Dawkins has shown some potential in the last two years, but the rest of the line has struggled. Groy has had a rough start to the year allowing two hits and three hurries. The Bills catch a break with Everson Griffen out, but it’s hard to see how they will slow down Linval Joseph and Sheldon Richardson.

Advantage: Vikings

Defensive line

Sep 16, 2018; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) scrambles for a short gain against Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Linval Joseph (98) in the first quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings starters: Stephen Weatherly – Sheldon Richardson – Linval Joseph – Danielle Hunter

In the first two weeks, Richardson hasn’t just been one of the best players on the Vikings defense, he’s been one of the best defensive players in the NFL, posting 13 QB pressures and three run stops. Hunter is off to the start we expected, sacking the opposing QB twice and creating 10 pressures. Weatherly gets the start for Griffen. It appears he’s taking a step forward in Year 3. The 2016 seventh-round pick has worked his way into a rotational spot, playing 32 snaps over the first two weeks.

Bills starters: Trent Murphy – Kyle Williams – Star Lotulelei – Jerry Hughes

The Bills’ best defensive linemen might be one who isn’t listed as a starter. Third-rounder Harrison Phillips has three run stops and two QB pressures in 59 snaps so far. The rest of the line hasn’t had a good start to the year, creating just 16 total pressures and allowing 226 yards rushing. Williams was once a great player, but he has a lot of miles on his body and the Bills will be without former first-rounder Shaq Lawson.

Advantage: Vikings

Linebackers

Sep 16, 2018; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Ty Montgomery (88) leaps over a defender as Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr (55) and linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) chase during the second quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings starters: Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Ben Gedeon

In 79 coverage snaps so far, Barr has been targeted just four times with two completions. He’s been used sparingly as a pass rusher, which may change at some point, rushing only 18 times and creating two hurries. Kendricks is off to somewhat of a slow start, but his body of work suggests he’s the man to slow down McCoy in the passing game. The Vikings gave him a $50 million contract in part because he played a major role in the Vikings ranking No. 1 against running backs in the passing game last year.

Bills starters: Tremaine Edmunds, Lorenzo Alexander, Matt Milano

It’s been a rough start to Edmonds’ career in coverage. He’s allowed 16 catches on 19 targets for 180 yards and a 123.7 quarterback rating. His freakish athleticism has shown up at times, but the Vikings will be looking to take advantage of him in the passing game. Alexander is a tremendously smart player who can rush the passer or cover effectively and Milano is the Bills’ top run stopper.

Advantage: Vikings

Secondary

Vikings starters: Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander, Harrison Smith, Andrew Sendejo

The Vikings’ secondary will make life very difficult for Josh Allen. Young quarterbacks — and even veterans — struggle against Smith’s ability to line up anywhere at any time and change his alignment pre-snap. His rare playmaking ability turned into picks against inexperience quarterbacks last year against Mitch Trubisky and Brett Hundley. The only question about the Vikings’ secondary is whether Alexander will keep the slot job. He allowed four catches on four throws for 68 yards last week in his first start of the year.

Bills starters: Tre’Davius White, Taron Johnson, Phillip Gaines, Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer

White is a terrific young player. He’s been targeted just three times in the first two games. But the rest of the Bills’ secondary has not performed well. The Bills have given up a 128.7 opposing quarterback rating over the first two games.

Advantage: Vikings

The post Position-by-position: How the Vikings match up against the Bills appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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