4:35 PM ET, Saturday, January 11, 2020
Levi’s Stadium, San Francisco, California
The NFC Divisional Playoffs are kicking off with the surprising Minnesota Vikings facing rock solid San Francisco 49ers. Whoever will be the winner at Levi’s Stadium will be the scenario for an opportunity to move on to the NFC Conference Championships and to revive a match-up that gave us a vibrant game 2 years ago with a Viking’s victory 24-16 and with it a chance to seek revenge over the 49ers, could they remain standing as the #1 seed in the NFC or will the Vikings strike again?
With a 13-3 regular-season record, San Francisco has become the most balanced team in the NFC. Coming from a bye week during the Wildcard rounds, and with no injuries reported so far, they remain the most promising candidate to advance to the NFC Conference Championships.
The 49ers are ranked fourth in the league in total offensive yards with 381.1 yards per game. Their rushing game is their main strength with an average 144.1, and they also have George Kittle, who is the kind of wizard that can extend plays with 85 receptions for 1,053 yards and 5 touchdowns, and he posted these numbers on the board while missing 2 games in the regular season. And if you don’t remember, let’s not forget that awesome play he pulled out of the bag on week 14 to win the New Orleans Saints.
The 49ers started the regular season with 8 wins allowing 12.8 points per game and 26.0 points per game in their last 8 games; even so, they ended as the number one defense in the NFC with only 281.8 total yards allowed per game. Their weakness is their rushing defense which allowed 112.6 yards per game.
If the 49ers can’t stop Dalvin Cooke, they will have problems, as Cooke can extend the plays and release Kirk Cousins from the pressure as he will face Fred Warner with 118 tackles and Richard Sherman who already caught 3 interceptions in the regular season. Also, Arik Armstead with 10 sacks and DeForest Buckner with 7.5 will try to get him.
The Vikings aren’t coming to this game as underdogs, but even dogs can come on top, as they did by stunning the New Orleans Saints with a 26-20 upset in the Wildcard round. . Anything can happen when they have Dalvin Cook in good shape. He comes on the back of 94 rushing yards and two touchdowns against the Saints, who allowed only 91.3 rushing yards per game in the regular season. The Vikings ran for 136 yards per game and scored 2 touchdowns per game in the regular season as well.
One of Minnesota’s weak points is Kirk Cousins. And he looked good against New Orleans and put on the board 242 passing yards and one touchdown to win the game in overtime, he also mad a few critical plays in 3rd down to break the Saints’ defense.
Third-down conversions will be the key to this game. The Vikings achieve 42.78% of completion in the regular season while allowed 39.72% to their rivals.
So How Will it Go?
Both teams probably will not be able to stop the other side’s running game completely so this matchup may be decided by their quarterbacks and their ability to stay calm in the pocket and make the right decisions in the right moments. But they will also need the creativity to surprise their rival with alternative plays, something in which the 49ers have a lot more experience in. But can Jimmy Garoppolo keep his outstanding numbers when achieved 69.2% of completed passes (he’s ranked 3rd in the league) for 103.1 yards per pass (for this he’s ranked 7th) during a playoff game?
Final Score: 49ers to win 27-17 outright
Spread: Vikings +7 (45%) / 49ers -7 (55%)
O/U: 45.5 Over (58%) / Under (42%)