Vikings offensive line likely to play pivotal role against Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings running back Matt Asiata (44) gets tackled by Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (90) defensive end Darryl Tapp (52) and outside linebacker DeAndre Levy (54) during the third quarter Dec. 14 at Ford Field. Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

What: Minnesota Vikings (6-9) at Miami Dolphins (9-7)

Sunday, noon, at Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla. - TV: FOX

*TV announcers: Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa

*Keys to the game: Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner showed his growing confidence in rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater last week by catching Detroit off-guard with a heavy dose of five-wide, shotgun sets. Bridgewater threw picks on consecutive passes but otherwise continued to show strong development.

The key against Miami will be continued help from RB Matt Asiata in at least plodding forward for positive yardage on the ground. While the Dolphins are 22nd in defending the run, they have the league's fourth-rated pass defense on the strength of a pass rush that can do serious damage against Minnesota's often-spotty protection in front of Bridgewater.


The Dolphins struggled to establish the ground game during last week's blowout loss to the Patriots and QB Ryan Tannehill wasn't sharp as a result. He operates best in the quick passing game and won't stretch the field deep often - although he has shown the ability to challenge the seam. Expect consistent touches for RB Lamar Miller out of the gate as the Dolphins attempt to create some rhythm and establish a few early drives.

*Matchup to watch - Vikings LT Matt Kalil/LG Vlad Ducasse vs. Dolphins DE Olivier Vernon/DT Jared Odrick: The left side of Minnesota's line has been a problem area all season. Considering the Dolphins' pass rush threats on the other side, the Vikings can't afford to give Kalil and Ducasse much in the way of extra support.

*Player spotlight - Vikings DE Brian Robison: The eighth-year veteran doesn't receive as much attention as Everson Griffen on the other side, but he's a savvy veteran with a distinct edge in his matchup against RT Dallas Thomas.

*Fast facts: LB Chad Greenway holds a three-tackle lead as he attempts to lead the Vikings in tackles for a franchise-record seventh time.


Both teams have shown signs of growth this season that bely their middling records. The Dolphins have endured a rough stretch against a tough schedule, and help embattled coach Joe Philbin's cause with Tannehill rebounding from an erratic outing and the defense keeping Bridgewater unsettled in the pocket.

*Our pick: Dolphins 19-16

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