Know Your Foe: Minnesota Vikings

It's been quite a while since the Texans have made the trek up into NFC North territory. In fact, the last time the Texans traveled that far north was in December 2008 when the Texans scored a thrilling win over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

The trip to face the Minnesota Vikings in week five will be the Texans first Sunday road trip of 2016. Furthermore, it'll be the first opportunity to play in the Vikings brand new stadium U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. The Vikings last game, a playoff loss to Seattle, was played in frigid conditions at University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium, while this one will be played in balmy 72 degrees, or whatever the Vikings faithful like their internal temperature to be on gameday.

That loss to Seattle came in such excruciating fashion and it has motivated this group all offseason long. It returns many of the same parts that led the Vikings to the NFC North title in 2015, so there should be plenty of excitement for 2016 in Viking-land.

My Know Your Foe series continues with a team the Texans haven't faced since 2012, yet led by the same man that led them four years ago - Adrian Peterson.

OFFENSE
2015 Unit Profile
Rush Offense - 138.2 ypg (4th in the NFL)
Pass Offense - 183.0 ypg (31st)
Total Offense - 321.2 ypg (29th)
Scoring Offense - 22.8 ppg (16th)

Here's what the Vikings offense looked like in that playoff loss to Seattle in 2015.

WR - Stefon Diggs
LT - Matt Kalil
LG - Brandon Fusco
C - Joe Berger
RG - M. Harris
RT - T.J. Clemmings
TE - Kyle Rudolph
QB - Teddy Bridgewater
RB - Adrian Peterson
TE - MyCole Pruitt
*T - Austin Shepherd

Here's what the Vikings offense COULD look like in early October 2016 when the Texans visit.

WR - Stefon Diggs
LT - Matt Kalil
LG - Brandon Fusco
C - JOHN SULLIVAN
RG - ALEX BOONE
RT - T.J. Clemmings
TE - Kyle Rudolph
QB - Teddy Bridgewater
RB - Adrian Peterson
TE - MyCole Pruitt
*FB - Zach Line *WR - LAQUON TREADWELL

**ALL CAPS INDICATE POTENTIALLY DIFFERENT STARTER

Most significant improvement on the offense - Without question, it has to be the addition of wide receiver Treadwell. The Vikings started two tight ends and three tackles against Seattle, which spoke volumes about the lack of playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. Or...maybe the fact that it was nearly 100 degrees below zero, so the passing game wasn't going to be a major factor, I suppose.

Most impactful players that teams didn't face in 2015? - Treadwell. He should make an immediate impression in the passing game.

What will worry Texans fans the most? - 28. Still and always. Until Peterson decides to hang 'em up one day down the road, he'll be the driving force for this organization and this offense.

What will worry Vikings fans the most? - The biggest question for the Vikings offense in 2016 is the sustained growth of Bridgewater. He has a stout running game, Treadwell was added in the passing game and this is his third year in the system. That should signal a ton of growth for the passing game and for this offense as a whole. If, IF, it doesn't happen, that's more than just a worry. It's a huge issue.

DEFENSE
2015 Unit Profile
Rush Defense - 109.2 ypg (17th in the NFL)
Pass Defense - 234.9 ypg (12th)
Total Defense - 344.2 ypg (13th)
Scoring Defense - 18.9 ppg (5th)

Here's what the Vikings defense looked like in that loss to Seattle

DE - Brian Robison
DT - Sharif Floyd
NT - Linval Joseph
DE - Everson Griffen
OLB - Chad Greenway
MLB - Eric Kendricks
OLB - Anthony Barr
CB - Terrence Newman
S - Andrew Sendejo
S - Harrison Smith
CB - Xavier Rhodes

Here's what the Vikings defense COULD look like in early October 2016 when the Texans visit.

DE - Brian Robison
DT - Sharif Floyd
NT - Linval Joseph
DE - Everson Griffen
OLB - Chad Greenway
MLB - Eric Kendricks
OLB - Anthony Barr
CB - Terrence Newman/TRAE WAYNES/MACKENSIE ALEXANDER

S - Andrew Sendejo/JAYRON KEARSE
S - Harrison Smith
CB - Xavier Rhodes

ALL CAPS INDICATE POTENTIALLY DIFFERENT STARTER*Situational starters based on opposing offensive scheme

Most significant improvement on the defense - If Sendejo and Newman hold on to the starting spots, there won't be any changes, year over year, to this defense. That's a great sign for Vikings fans, given how talented this group is.

Most impactful players that teams didn't see in 2015? The two Clemson secondary selections in the 2016 Draft (Alexander and Kearse). However, Alexander will probably be the only one that sees significant action on the field in 2016

What will worry Texans fans the most? - The interior defensive line pairing of Joseph and Floyd can be nasty and help shut down the running game. This is a highly athletic and wildly gifted front seven with some depth too.

What will worry Vikings fans the most? - If no one can generate any edge pass rush. That's about the only major worry. If there's another one, it's that there are a few gray hairs, relatively speaking, on this defense at key starting spots. It's a workable mix for the Vikings defense right now, but young draft picks like DE Scott Crichton, DE Danielle Hunter, CB Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander and LB Kentrell Brothers must step into significant defensive roles soon or this defense will get old right in front of those Vikings fans' eyes.

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