Win your home games and take your chances on the road. It's an unscientific formula, but it's a formula that can lead to the postseason. And you can't win all your home games if you don't win the first one. The challenge begins for the Vikings on Sunday as they host the San Francisco 49ers in the 2018 season opener.
What will happen on Sunday remains to be seen. What we know for sure right now, though, is that this Vikings team is not overlooking its first opponent.
"This is going to be a great test for us this week," head coach Mike Zimmer said. "San Francisco is a very good football team. I think we are excited to get out there and get the season started. We are hoping that our crowd is very, very loud when they are on offense so we put as much pressure on them as we possibly can."
Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo echoed Zimmer's sentiment on Thursday.
"We definitely have a big-time challenge on our hands," DeFilippo said. "These guys do a great job, have a great scheme, they're well coached, disciplined, and they really have a lot of team speed on defense."
Only two franchises (Pittsburgh – 267, Denver – 258) have more home wins since 1970 than Minnesota's 250, a standing that was aided by the 1998 Vikings team that was 8-0 at home in the regular season (9-1) including the postseason. The 2018 Vikings look to begin a dominant year at home and as they commence the effort they will be cheered on by members of that '98 team who will be on-hand as part of the organization's recognition of the 20th anniversary of that team.
Sunday promises to be a fun (and hopefully winning) day at U.S. Bank Stadium.
What is the match up you are most looking forward to with this week's game? Joe Staley, one of the best, versus our defensive ends should be fun to watch.
-- Tim Evancho
Kyle Juszczyk versus Anthony Barr/Eric Kendricks tops my list in a game that features a lot of intriguing matchups, including the one Tim referenced in his question. Vikings fans remember how in 2015 the 49ers attacked with a power running game. On Sunday, I can see the 49ers using the running game once again but this time using more of a finesse style to attack, with Juszczyk being a key component because of his combination of movement skills and blocking ability. Vikings Radio Network analyst broke down two 49ers running plays from the preseason where Juszczyk on one occasion and tight end Garrett Celek on another occasion were able to get to the second level of the defense and lead the running backs to space where they were able to gain chunks of yardage. The Vikings ability to combat this tactic will depend a lot on the play of Barr and Kendricks, and I'm excited to see this matchup unfold on Sunday afternoon.
Stat of the Week
The Vikings defense allowed only 20 runs of 10+ yards in 2017, the fewest in the NFL and tied with the 1995 San Francisco 49ers for the fewest in the NFL since 1991.
Why is it important for the Vikings defense to be sound against the run on Sunday? Check out the tweet below for your answer.
Tweet of the Week
Did You Know?
49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan was born in Minneapolis in 1979 while his father, Mike, coached at the University of Minnesota. Also, Kyle Shanahan served as the Washington Redskins offensive coordinator while Kirk Cousins and Tom Compton were also with the Redskins; the three overlapped for the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
Calling all history buffs
Sunday's game marks the 47th contest between the Vikings and 49ers, the fifth-most all-time among Vikings opponents behind only teams who've shared a division with the Vikings (Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay and Tampa Bay). Improbably, the series will be tied with 23 wins per side of the Vikings come out on top on Sunday.
While these two franchises have exchanged blows when facing one another, they've combined to deliver blows to the rest of the League since the 1970 AFL-NFL Merger. Since then, the Vikings rank third in playoff berths (27) and the 49ers are tied for fourth (24), the 49ers rank tied for second in division titles with 19 and the Vikings rank fifth with (18), and the Vikings rank sixth in wins (418) while the 49ers rank seventh (407).
National TV: FOX
Play-by-Play: Kevin Burkhardt
Analyst: Charles Davis
Sideline: Pam Oliver
National Radio: Compass Media Networks
Play-by-Play: Chris Carrino
Analyst: Brian Baldinger
Local Radio: KFAN-FM 100.3/KTLK-AM 1130
Play-by-Play: Paul Allen
Analyst: Pete Bercich
Sideline: Greg Coleman, Ben Leber
Pre-Game Show: Mike Mussman – 10:00 am CT