“I Got To Get To California”

NFC Divisional Playoff 

(6) Minnesota Vikings at (1) San Francisco 49ers 

Vikings: Be real as you’re reading this. You didn’t expect the Minnesota Vikings of all teams to survive the Wild Card round, did you? Not many did. But here they are. They’ve won their first road playoff since 2005. I was so impressed with how the Vikings played in New Orleans on Sunday. They were able to control things with a balanced offensive attacked. The offensive line did a solid job at keeping Kirk Cousins protected. Coming into this game, I said if Dalvin Cook were to make his mark, the Vikings would do well on the offensive side. Dalvin became the first Vikings running back since Adrian Peterson to score two touchdowns in a postseason game. My biggest takeaway was their defense. It’s not easy to contain an offense such as the Saints, but the Vikings did it. They kept Alvin Kamara in check for most of the game. He couldn’t never find his rhythm. Minnesota was also able to keep Michael Thomas out of the endzone. The goal was simple. He can make his catches, just don’t let him break away. The question surrounded Kirk Cousins. Could he win when his team needed him the most which is on the big stage? It’s safe to say he silenced all his critics as he came away with his first playoff win of his career. When you needed the quarterback to make that big throw for you, he delivered. You can’t take this away from him even if some wanted too. To keep the ball rolling, they’ll kick off the divisional round of the playoffs with a trip to California.

49ers: The last time we saw them play was in Seattle when they were battling the Seahawks for the NFC West and a home playoff game. They were able to make a stop at the one-yard line. There you have it. In a year where the Los Angeles Rams was a heavy favorite to win the NFC West and the Seahawks were also a favorite, the San Francisco 49ers truly came out of nowhere to win the division for the first time since 2012 when they last made it to the Super Bowl. Here they are 13-3 with the top seed in the NFC. As I sit here writing this, I just wonder what would’ve happened if Jimmy Garoppolo didn’t get hurt during the 2018 season. That’s a what-if that’ll always be in my head as the years pass along. After their big win against the Saints, I was concerned about them as I said at the end of the regular season. Atlanta shocked them and they barely got by the Rams. However, I saw more of a complete effort when they faced the Seahawks in week 17. The 49ers are at their best when they are running the football. They have a three-headed monster to do so in Tevin Coleman who played for Kyle Shanahan back in Atlanta, Matt Brieda and Raheem Mostert. What I enjoy about their defense is they can assert their physical nature when necessary. They’ll punch you around until you can recover. Looking for their first NFC title game appearance in seven years, they’ll host Minnesota.

Vikings Player to Watch: Linval Joseph– This is the Vikings best run defender on the defensive line. Linval is a driving force on the Vikings front four. He’s a big guy. I’ve heard his peers say you need about three guys to move him. Linval is a guy that’s always low. The lowest man wins which is why you see him win upfront so many times. I’ve seen running backs run into him. Watch for him to help neutralize the run on Saturday afternoon.

49ers Player to Watch: Emmanuel Sanders– There’s a reason why you get certain players. It’s for big games. Sanders knows a thing or two about playing in those. He’s been in the playoffs, he’s played in a Super Bowl and he’s won a title. This is why you acquire a player like this, for these games. Look for him to make a catch over the middle of the field on third down situations.

Final Analysis: It’s an old-school showdown to open up the second round. This will mark the 49ers’ first postseason game at Levi’s Stadium. These two met to open the 2018 season which was the worst game of Jimmy G’s career. He threw three interceptions in that loss. Here we are more than a year later. Minnesota has to present that physical challenge. The Vikings defense along with Dalvin Cook will do all they can to keep this game close. The 49ers defensive front has been a problem for the competition all year long. I look for defensive coordinator Robert Saleh to dial up a lot of blitzes and pressures to affect Cousins.

Prediction: 49ers 23 Vikings 17

One thought on ““I Got To Get To California”

  1. Great write-up as always bro. When you say “Player to watch” I listen because you’ve been deadly accurate. I’m hoping the return of Dee Ford and (possibly Kwon) will help with Dalvin (who is a beast) as well as their TE.

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