The call: Vikings at Cincinnati

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 21, 2013 - 7:29 PM
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Third-year Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has proven to be an elusive target for opposing pass rushers this season.

Photo: File photo by Tom Uhlman • Associated Press,

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One man’s prediction: The Vikings are coming off their best game of the season and expect to have RBs Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart available. QB Matt Cassel has provided some offensive balance with his passing. The Bengals are clinging to their lead in the AFC North and have not lost at home this season. They should play like a team with a sense of urgency.

Quick to throw

Jared Allen and Brian Robison seem to enjoy their friendly competition over which one will lead the team in sacks. They have nine sacks each with two games left. They will have to work hard to get Andy Dalton on the ground. The Bengals quarterback has been sacked only 27 times and has the fastest snap-to-release time of any NFL quarterback, according to ProFootballFocus. Vikings linemen will focus on getting their hands up to bat down passes at the line to combat Dalton’s quick release.

Patterson plan is win-win

Cordarrelle Patterson has become such a dynamic kickoff returner that teams are afraid to kick to him. The Eagles eliminated the rookie’s return capabilities by kicking short every time last week, but that consistently gave the Vikings favorable field position. The Vikings view that as a win-win because teams must either risk Patterson bringing back a big return or they concede field position.

Run-pass balance is key

Will Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave stick with a balanced approach with Peterson back in the lineup? Musgrave called 35 runs and 35 passes a week ago. Adrian Peterson obviously remains the focal point, but Matt Cassel has given the offense a vertical passing game and an ability to take advantage of teams that commit extra defenders to stop the reigning NFL MVP.

MANO-A-MANO: MATCHUP TO WATCH

Vikings S Harrison Smith vs. Bengals WR A.J. Green

About Smith

Returned last week after an eight-game absence because of a turf toe injury. He played more snaps than anyone expected and finished with nine tackles.

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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland NoonX31-27
Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
Dec 29 - vs. Detroit NoonX14-13

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