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NFL Minnesota Vikings

5 Keys To A Week 6 Minnesota Vikings Victory

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5 Keys to a Minnesota Vikings Week 6 Victory

5 Keys to a Vikings Week 6 Victory
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings have dug themselves into quite a hole this season, meaning this Week 6 match-up with the Carolina Panthers is a must win even though other NFC North teams are struggling as well. The Vikings stand at 1-3 on the season and so do the Panthers, which is why this is not only a game the Vikings must win, but one they should win as well.

Leslie Frazier has already said the newest member of the team, Josh Freeman, won’t start for the Vikings on Sunday. And even though Frazier has said other misleading things this season, I’ll take his word on this. Freeman still has to learn a whole new playbook making it understandable he would need a couple of weeks which is why Matt Cassel has been named the team's Week 6 starter over Christian Ponder.

The Panthers have underperformed as well this season, and the main reason for that has been the play of Cam Newton. Newton has only had one solid game all season, which bodes well for a Vikings defense that has struggled against the pass all season long. The defense for the Panthers has been getting the job done, however, as opposing teams are averaging just 14 points per game and have struggled to move the ball down the field in general.

The Vikings’ offense will be tested this week, but with their defense showing the ability to score as well as rush the passer effectively this season it appears Sunday afternoon's game will be a close one between two teams who desperately need a victory.

Nick Baker is a contributing writer for Rant Sports and you can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and add him to your network on Google.

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5. Matt Cassel Must Remain Mistake Free

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In Cassel’s lone start this season he led the Vikings to their first victory of the year and did so while playing largely unimpressive football. Yes he threw for 248 yards on the day and completed 64 percent of his passes, but it was the zero turnovers he had that really helped the team succeed. Many of the yards Cassel accumulated were from Greg Jennings’ 70-yard touchdown run, 60 yards of which came after the catch. The Vikings don’t need Cassel to be spectacular; if he can simply manage the game they should be able to outscore the inconsistent Panthers offense.

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4. Adrian Peterson Must Break Through Tough Panthers' D-Line

 No. 4 Adrian Peterson Must Break Through Tough Panthers D-Line
Bob Martin-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers give up an average of just 92 yards per game on the ground, which puts the pressure on Adrian Peterson and the Vikings' offensive line. Peterson is the best threat the Vikings have on offense, and they must get him going on Sunday if they have any hopes of winning. Peterson is averaging 4.6 yards per carry this year, which is a bit disappointing given his expectations for the season. But he has been getting better offensive line play as of late, and fullback Jerome Felton just recently returned from a three-game suspension and helped Peterson run free for two touchdowns and 140 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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3. Interior D-Line Must Come To Play

No. 3 Interior D-Line Must Come To Play
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings’ run defense this season has been among the worst in the league which is quite concerning for a team that has been known to stuff the run. Kevin Williams has played in just three games this season and has done more harm than good in his 144 snaps played. Williams is ranked as the Vikings’ second worst interior defensive lineman (PFF), and unfortunately their worst ranked lineman is Letroy Guion, who has recorded the second most snaps among players at his position. Sharrif Floyd hopefully will see more playing time this week as has been outperforming both Guion and Williams in his limited playing time. He figures to be a big part of the defense going forward.

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2. Secondary Must Take Advantage Of Struggling Panthers' Pass Attack

No. 2 Secondary Must Take Advantage Of Struggling Panthers Pass Attack
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is having his worst season to date. He is currently completing under 60 percent of his passes and has already thrown five interceptions. The Vikings’ secondary is among the worst in the league, but with Newton clearly struggling the secondary must do their best to create turnovers as well as shut down the Panthers receiving corps, which is below average at best. Although small bodied, Marcus Sherels has graded out as the best Vikings cornerback by the guys at PFF, and although he hasn’t made a spectacular play yet, he impressed while defending Josh Gordon in Week 3 and should be paired up against the equally short Steve Smith this weekend.

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1. Receiving Corps Must Keep Up High Level Of Play

No. 1 Receiving Corps Must Keep Up High Level Of Play
Bob Martin-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings’ receivers have been carrying the team's passing attack so far this season, and hopefully it continues because it sure is fun to watch. As previously mentioned Jennings broke free for a 70-yard touchdown run after a short pass, and Jerome Simpson has become one of the most underrated receivers in the NFL this season, actually leading the Vikings with 342 receiving yards. Cordarrelle Patterson has been targeted for some deep passes in his limited playing time, and hopefully he begins to be implemented more into the pass game as he can be just as effective as Jennings and Simpson given the chance.