4 keys to victory for the Minnesota Vikings at Bucs in Week 14

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Kirk Cousins
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Kirk Cousins /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Dalvin Cook /

Overcome Tampa’s No. 1 run defense

Tampa Bay has the best run defense in the NFL. They are giving up just 74.2 yards-per-game on the ground and this has the potential to complicate things for the Minnesota Vikings if they cannot get running back Dalvin Cook going early on.

The Buccaneers defensive line leads the way and they are backed up by two tremendous inside linebackers in Devin White and Lavonte David, who are both around the football consistently. Cook will have to work for every yard he gains on Sunday and it is vital that the Vikings don’t go away from their star player even if things do not go his way early on.

Having such a prolific player such as Cook shoulder the load completely changes the dynamic of Minnesota’s offense. Defenses have to stack the box providing the game is close and this not only opens up areas of the passing game, but it has also proven highly advantageous in terms of using play-action effectively.

Cook has logged 107 carries over the last four games in addition to accumulating 19 receptions from 22 targets. He will undoubtedly be the focal point of Tampa Bay’s defensive scheme and the All-Pro candidate has to get the better of this particular matchup to give the Vikings a fighting chance.

If he can do this, then it should allow Minnesota to control the clock and keep a dynamic Bucs’ offense off the field.