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After a strong showing in Week one, the Minnesota Vikings face off against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. The Steelers come in with something to prove: despite their 1-0 record after a defeat of the Cleveland Browns it looked like the team has not quite shaken off its pre-season cobwebs. The Vikings, on the other hand, came out strong with an NFC Offensive Player of the Week performance from Sam Bradford, who threw nine tosses to Adam Thielen for 157 yards. Dalvin Cook showed that he is a true NFL running back, displaying not only the speed he showed in college but amazing strength as well. Carrying on their week one victory, here are the Vikings keys to victory to beat the Steelers.

Week Two Minnesota Vikings Keys to Victory

1) Protection

Despite their mediocre offensive performance, the Steelers played a pretty solid defensive game, and if they can get pressure on Bradford, he’s going to struggle against them.

There were reports this week that Bradford had some limited activity during practice due to concerns over a knee injury. The very idea shakes Vikings fans, who flashback to his 2013-14 injury that benched him for a season.

The offensive line will have to play at least as well, or better than they did in week one. But if they can do that, Bradford will probably have another productive day with targets like Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph in addition to Thielen.

2) Cook that Defense

That’s right. Dalvin Cook himself will be a key to week two victory once again for a couple of reasons. First, the Vikings need to keep the running game strong so the Steelers can’t lay back and wait for the pass. Additionally, Bradford performs better when he has more time in the pocket. Cook has proven to be a capable blocker through one week of play.

Cook is also the answer for short yards, Red Zone offense, and generally gaining yardage. While the Steelers defense may have looked good in Week one, they were not facing nearly the weapons they are in Week two.

Another aspect to Cook’s usefulness is his sheer strength, which gives him the ability to help protect the quarterback or give him a short outlet if everyone downfield is covered well. Cook is a fantastic weapon, and should be too hot for the Steelers defense to handle.

3) De-Fense! De-Fense!

Predicting the Steelers offense will struggle against a strong Minnesota defense is easy, but there is one guy on the Pittsburgh side of the ball who thrives on that kind of pressure: Ben Roethlisberger. A lackluster performance against Cleveland simply means he has something to prove this week.

Roehtlisberger will always be a wild card, and even when the talent around him is struggling, he has shown an amazing ability to make plays downfield and orchestrate some brilliant offensive drives.

The Vikings defense has to be sharp and aware of where he is on the field and where he is looking at all times. Giving up a few big plays could make winning that much harder.

The Vikings are coming into this game strong, soaring of a Week one game that showed an offense that really came together. The Steelers are coming in with something to prove. The Vikings have to play the protection game, use Cook to his full potential, and harden the defense if they are going to start 2-0.

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