NFL Minnesota Vikings

5 Minnesota Vikings Players To Keep An Eye On In Week 15

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5 Minnesota Vikings Players To Keep An Eye On

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

This coming Sunday the Minnesota Vikings will host the streaking Philadelphia Eagles in a game that could ultimately decide whether or not the Eagles make the playoffs. The Eagles are a game in front of the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East, but if the Cowboys win and Eagles lose the division crown will be up for grabs once again.

The Vikings have been out of the playoff race for quite some time now, but that hasn’t stopped them from being a playoff spoiler in recent weeks. They did so by holding the Green Bay Packers to a tie instead of a victory three weekends ago and then beat the Chicago Bears the following week to help the Detroit Lions climb to the top of the NFC North.

The Vikings are now in the same position this week against the 8-5 Eagles who have won an impressive five games in a row. Their offense has been spectacular is recent weeks and didn’t slow down one bit against the Lions last Sunday in a blizzard. LeSean McCoy was the workhorse for the Eagles last weekend so the Vikings' game plan must start with containing the versatile back that leads the NFL with 1,305 rushing yards.

While the Vikings' defense will have a key role in the team’s success this weekend, Matt Cassel will be under center for the purple and gold meaning the Eagles must face a quarterback who has an 85 quarterback rating this season and is coming off a solid performance last week in snowy conditions.

Cassel won’t be the Eagles’ biggest concern come Sunday, but he has proven to be a competent distributor who makes the offense more potent and gives this team a shot at pulling one more upset this season. Aside from Cassel, there are five Vikings players you should keep an eye on this weekend as they either have a favorable matchup or will play a key role in the team's game plan.

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. Andrew Sendejo

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Sendejo has done a nice job stepping up in the absence of Harrison Smith. Unlike Smith, however, Sendejo has made a name for himself in stopping the run this year -- first against the Carolina Panthers and then three weeks later against the Cowboys. Last week against the Baltimore Ravens, Sendejo made himself known in pass coverage by recording a very impressive 3.3 rating from Pro Football Focus, the highest of any safety in the league last week. If Sendejo can put it all together this Sunday he very well could be the Vikings’ biggest playmaker on the defensive side of the ball.

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4. Jerome Simpson

The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

Although you may not know it, Jerome Simpson is currently leading all Vikings receivers in yards (670) and targets (87). In recent weeks Simpson has made quite a few jaw-dropping catches, and it’s been awhile since he’s had a standout game. While he may not record his third 100-yard receiving game of the season, expect Simpson to make a noticeable difference in the Vikings’ pass attack.

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3. Toby Gerhart

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to Toby Gerhart’s eight carries for 91 yards against the Packers, I was calling for the impending free agent to get more of the workload. Adrian Peterson is still one of the top running backs in the NFL, but Gerhart is averaging 7.9 yards per carry this season and has made it look easy getting through the line of scrimmage and running through arm tackles. Peterson’s playing status is still in doubt this Sunday, so make sure to keep an eye on the running back who will be a highly sought after player this coming offseason.

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2. Kevin Wiliams

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Although he’s 33 years old, Kevin Williams has been playing like a younger man in recent weeks. PFF has given Williams a positive grade in each of his last five games, his most impressive of which came against the Packers when he recorded three tackles, two batted passes, and two quarterback hurries. Williams is a big man to miss in the middle, and he will have plenty of opportunities to stop the speedy McCoy, which is a must if the Vikings hope to be a playoff spoiler once again.

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1. Cordarrelle Patterson

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Whether or not I mentioned Cordarrelle Patterson’s name, all Vikings fans would be keeping their eyes glued to the rookie receiver and return man. Patterson made an impact in the game late last weekend as he turned a simple screen pass into a 79-yard touchdown with just 45 seconds remaining. Patterson is also quickly emerging as one of the elite kick return men in the league as teams have already started kicking away from him to reduce the risk of a touchdown being scored.