Both teams are in a foreign land, but BTSC and the Vikings' SB Nation site, Daily Norseman, are still running things as if the game was being played in the states. DN editor Christopher Gates answered some questions for us heading into Week 4.
1. In order for Steelers running back Felix Jones to rush for 2,500 yards this season, he'll need to average about 187 yards per game for the next 13 games. How much concern is the Steelers' rushing attack for the Vikings in Week 4?
After what happened with the team last week at home against the Cleveland Browns, the Vikings really aren't in a position to overlook any aspect of any team. The Vikings' shut down the Cleveland rush offense in the wake of the Trent Richardson trade, but that just allowed them to get lit up through the air by Brian Hoyer. Brian. . .freaking. . .Hoyer. So if the Vikings can stop Felix Jones and the rest of the Steelers' running back stable, they have to capitalize on that by getting to Ben Roethlisberger and bringing him down in the inevitable second and third-and-long situations. They've had issues with that at key times this season as well.
2. Left tackle Matt Kalil doesn't seem to be off to a great start. I saw him as one of the best tackles in the game heading into this season. Do you feel he's struggling in 2013?
The entire offensive line has had their issues this season. They gave up six sacks last week to a fairly non-descript Cleveland defense, and it hasn't been from just one source. Having said that, Kalil does seem to have regressed this season, and it's kind of sad to see. There's no denying that he's got a world of talent, and as you said he had a very good season as a rookie in 2012. It could just be that the malaise that seems to be affecting the rest of the team has gotten to him as well, and hopefully he'll snap out of this funk here sometime soon.
3. My main concern for the Steelers in this game is the return of Jerome Felton. I'm holding out hope Pittsburgh gets the benefit of rust covering the Vikings' ace lead blocker. How much has Felton's absence contributed to the Vikings' lack of success on the ground so far this year?
I'm not sure how much Felton's absence has really played a role in the team's offensive struggles this season. Yes, Felton went to the Pro Bowl in 2012 and is a great blocking fullback, but in the team's first two games of the year, second-year man Rhett Ellison acquitted himself quite well in Felton's stead. He missed the Week 3 game against Cleveland, and it's unknown whether or not he'll be back for this Sunday's contest or not. Obviously having Felton back will be a help to the offense, but I don't think he'a a panacea for all of the issues the team has on that side of the ball right now.
4. The Vikings are ravaged by injury in their secondary. Do you expect to get more than one of the team's "regular" starters in the defensive backfield for this game?
It doesn't look like starter Chris Cook is going to play, but anyone that's paid attention to the Vikings over the past couple of years isn't surprised by this. He's in the final year of his deal, and to this point has missed more games than he's played. It appears that Leslie Frazier and company are prepared to start second-year man Josh Robinson and utility man Marcus Sherels at corner in the base defense on Sunday. For some reason, they appear to have an aversion to playing rookie Xavier Rhodes, despite the fact that he's easily been the team's best cornerback when he's been on the field this season. Maybe that's something that gets rectified on Sunday as well.
5. Who was the better quarterback, Wade Wilson or Tommy Kramer?
Oh, Kramer, easily. Sober or drunk, Kramer is the better quarterback every day and twice on Sundays. Wilson had the nice run in 1987 (the strike year) where he helped the team get to the NFC Championship Game against the Redskins after generating a huge upset over the Joe Montana-led San Francisco 49ers (a game that saw Montana get benched for some guy named Steve Young), but overall I think that Kramer was the better quarterback. He led what might, to this day, be the most famous drive in Vikings history, and is statistically better than Wilson in pretty much every category. That and you never know exactly what you were going to get from ol' TK.
Check out Daily Norseman for Vikings news and updates heading into Week 4. You can follow them on Twitter @DailyNorseman
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