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Bleacher Report – Vikings

The best weapon for the Vikings’ defense: Home field advantage

By Matthew Coller

EAGAN, Minn. — Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky technically beat the Minnesota Vikings on November 18, but he didn’t have a very good night at the office.

The second-year quarterback managed only a 61.9 quarterback rating, his second lowest of the year, while throwing for just 165 yards (third lowest) and tossing two interceptions that nearly cost the Bears.

That was on his home turf at Solider Field.

This Sunday, Trubisky will match up against the Vikings’ stacked defense at US Bank Stadium, where they have been virtually unbeatable since the venue opened in 2016. And that’s not to mention that the Vikings’ season is on the line with a win-and-in situation.

“It is going to be a heightened sense of urgency,” Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said on Wednesday. “For us, playoffs have already started. We know that we have to win this game in order to get into them. There has to be heightened sense of energy and focus and study time. You have to make sure that your bodies are rested and understand it is going to be a physical football game on Sunday.”

In 23 games at US Bank Stadium, the Vikings’ defense has given up 19 touchdowns, picked off 21 passes, sacked opponents 76 times (No. 1 in the NFL at home) and given up an opposing quarterback rating of 75.7 — the lowest home rating allowed of any team in the NFC. Against the run they have given up only 3.8 yards per carry.

Only three quarterbacks have cleared a 100 passer rating in a single game and two of them failed to throw for 200 yards during that game. Nine quarterbacks have left US Bank Stadium with ratings below 70. Aaron Rodgers only averages 6.3 yards per attempt and has a 79.8 rating in the Vikings’ home and Trubisky’s lone appearance ended with a 69.0 rating.

There is only one quarterback to have a great game inside the Vikings’ home in downtown Minneapolis. In 2016, Andrew Luck threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns on 21-for-28 passing and ended the day with a 125.6 rating.

Only four running backs have gained 100 yards inside US Bank Stadium and three of them did so in losing efforts. Chicago running back Jordan Howard picked up 135 in Week 17 of the 2016 season in a 38-10 blowout victory for the Vikings. Two weeks ago Kalen Ballage had 123 yards in a 41-17 win for Minnesota. Frank Gore — then with the Colts — is the only back to hit the 100-yard mark in a win against the Vikings at US Bank Stadium.

As a team, Zimmer’s defense has allowed the fewest touchdowns at home since 2016 and has the lowest third down conversion rate allowed (26.7 percent) by 6.4 percent over the next best team. They have given up just 74 third-down conversion on 277 attempts and nine fourth-down conversions on 27 attempts.

Individually, only one player has more sacks at home in the NFL since 2016 than Danielle Hunter’s 21 sacks. That’s Denver’s Von Miller with 22.5.

The Bears haven’t been an impressive road team this year. Their wins have come against all teams with losing records (at Green Bay, Arizona, Buffalo, Detroit and San Francisco) and they have lost games at Miami and on the road against the New York Giants.

Whether the Vikings dominate defensively might not matter to the Bears depending on how the Los Angeles Rams’ matchup with the San Francisco 49ers plays out. If the Rams beat the 49ers, Chicago is locked into the No. 3 seed.

“Our guys know it will have a playoff feel, but I think that’s the best thing about our team all year long is that we haven’t made one game bigger than the others,” Bears head coach Matt Nagy said. “We’re not going to change that this week…I think that’s one of the biggest reasons why we stand where we stand now. Our guys are going to be focused each week.”

If the Bears do find themselves playing for the No. 2 spot, they will have an uphill battle against the Vikings team that is 17-6 at home since the opening of US Bank Stadium.

The post The best weapon for the Vikings’ defense: Home field advantage appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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