Minnesota was held to just seven points by Seattle last week in a nationally-televised game that put the Vikings’ playoff hopes in jeopardy.
Coach Mike Zimmer agrees that the Seahawks’ defense is coming around after losing a slew of players in the offseason. However, he didn’t think they were coming around enough to hold his talent-laden offense to seven points.
The loss spelled the end of Mike DeFilippo’s short tenure in Minnesota. A longtime assistant, Kevin Stefanski, will take over the play-calling.
One of the factors leading to the decision was a basic difference in opinion in how much the running game should be used. One can’t blame an offensive coordinator for wanting to go “pass-first” after the team guarantees millions of dollars to their new quarterback.
But running the ball has always been key to the Vikings success. When the coordinator doesn’t hear the multiple hints and directives to increase the rushing numbers, he has to go.
There was no such turmoil in Miami this week after the Dolphins hung tough with the Patriots all game and dialed up a Miami Miracle to steal a win as time expired.
With the Patriots putting their “hands” team on the field for what they expected to be a game-ending Hail Mary pass, Miami instead threw short. Two laterals later, Kenyan Drake cut left and then right to work his way through a matrix of Patriots and into the end zone.
The win puts the Dolphins right in the mix with the 7-6 Ravens, Colts, and Titans for the last AFC wild-card spot. Baltimore holds the tiebreakers and the wildcard entry for now.
Injuries and notes
Ryan Tannehill is expected to start this week. Cornerback Xavien Howard is questionable for Miami.
Linebacker Eric Kendricks is questionable for the Vikings with a rib injury.
Zimmer and the Vikings blocked Kevin Stefanski from interviewing for the Giants’ offensive coordinator position after last season. Zimmer says it is obvious this is an opportunity for Stefanski to show what he can do. Whether that means he could be the Vikings’ (and only the Vikings’) offensive coordinator next season remains to be seen. If nothing else, Zimmer knows Stefanski remembers how the Vikings played offense the past few playoff years.
Adam Gase is still battling doubters who said there was no way his Dolphins could make the playoffs. This could be one final tough test before they host the Jaguars and visit the Bills to end the season. The big question in Miami is whether being close enough to the playoffs would be enough to bring Gase and Ryan Tannehill back next year.
How to watch the Vikings-Dolphins game
CBS Sports will broadcast this game across much of the country. If you don’t have a local team playing in the same time slot, you can probably watch Minnesota and Miami.
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Read More: NFL week 16 Game Preview: Vikings at Lions
Who will win the Vikings-Dolphins game?
Miami has been surprising teams all season, but the Vikings are in the middle of a Mike Zimmer shake-up. Minnesota still has control of its playoff fortunes if they win out. Winning out starts with the visiting Dolphins.