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Lunchbreak: Key Areas to Watch in Vikings-49ers Matchup

There are plenty of matchups that will play out Sunday, but one seems to be in focus the most heading into Week 12.

The Vikings and 49ers meet this weekend in a clash of 5-5 teams, and all eyes will be on whether or not Minnesota can stop San Francisco's ground game.

The Vikings run defense ranks 28th overall in the NFL with 127.0 yards allowed per game. Minnesota has allowed 100-plus rushing yards in seven of 10 contests so far in 2021.

The 49ers, meanwhile, rank eighth with 123.2 rushing yards per game offensively. The 49ers ground game has hit the century mark in eight of 10 games, and the offense has tallied its two best performances (179 yards and 162 yards) in the past two weeks.

That aspect of Sunday's game is the main thing to watch according to Chad Graff, Arif Hasan and Jon Krawczynski, as the trio provided their weekly game preview on The Athletic.

Graff wrote:

They built the defense through strength and size up the middle, hoping Dalvin Tomlinson and Michael Pierce would stop the run. Now both are out for a tough matchup against one of the best running teams in the league. In the playoffs two years ago, the 49ers ran for 186 yards while only passing for 122. If the Vikings can somehow slow down that part of the 49ers offense, it'll go a long way toward securing a win.

Hasan added:

The interior defensive line. Against a run-heavy offense without run-defending interior defensive linemen, the Vikings are poised to get gashed. But if the replacements can step up, then they might have a chance.

Hasan later wrote that stopping the run is the key to a victory for Minnesota.

They stop the run, which is a tall task. Despite his impressive numbers, I'm still not a believer in Jimmy Garoppolo, and the Vikings should be able to pounce on his weaknesses.

As for Graff and Krawczynski, they most believe the biggest way for the Vikings to win is if the passing offense keeps up its recent surge.

Graff wrote:

In the playoffs two years ago, the Vikings offense managed just 172 yards through the air and 21 on the ground. But the 49ers have a different defensive coordinator, and the Vikings come into this game riding high after huge games from Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson. They'll need that success to continue if they hope to pull off the upset.

Krawczynski added Minnesota wins if "Cousins continues his hot streak and, as Chad wrote this week, listens to the little Brett Favre on his shoulder telling him to take chances down the field and not the little Sam Bradford on the other one telling him to play it safe."

Krawczynski was the only one of the three to predict a Vikings victory, as he went with a 27-26 Minnesota win. Graff and Hasan each had San Francisco winning, but by six or fewer points.

The Athletic's full game preview can be found here.

Moss highlights top Thanksgiving plays

Thanksgiving Day is over and done with, but it's always a good time to celebrate the top plays on that day.

Especially if they include Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss. recently posted a video of their top-50 all-time plays on the holiday, and Moss dotted the list.

Moss appropriately landed on the No. 3 spot for his 1998 Thanksgiving Day performance in which he caught three passes for 163 yards — with each of his receptions going for touchdowns.

Moss had a pair of 56-yard scores and also added a 51-yard touchdown in his rookie season as the Vikings earned a 46-36 win over the Cowboys.

Former Vikings running back Darrin Nelson also had a top-10 play, as his walk-off, 24-yard touchdown run in overtime in 1987 was the eighth overall play on the list.

Minnesota and Dallas were tied at 38 in overtime when Nelson cruised up the middle and called game as the Vikings won 44-38. He finished with 16 carries for 118 yards and two touchdowns on the day.

Moss showed up two other times in's collection of historic plays.

His first two appearances on the list came from the same game, a 27-15 Vikings win over the Cowboys in 2000.

The No. 35 overall play was a spectacular 7-yard touchdown reception in 2000 in which he hauled in Daunte Culpepper's pass with just his fingertips.

The No. 30 play was a 36-yard score in which Moss toe-tapped in the back of the end zone. Moss finished had a seven-catch, 144-yard performance with two scores against Dallas.

The full video of the top-50 plays can be viewed here.