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Opposing Player Spotlight: Week 15, Minnesota Vikings

Dolphins fans were denied an epic WR-CB matchup last weekend, but will they get one this Sunday?

Minnesota Vikings v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins are riding high following last week’s miracle win against the New England Patriots. I’m willing to say that as a South Florida native, that was the best moment I’ve witnesses while watching Miami sports (alongside Ray Allen’s game-winning 3-pointer in the 2013 NBA finals)... ever. Plays like that go down in history. Kenyan Drake will forever be an icon in Dolphins lore, and anyone who watched that game live will remember where they were the moment the Miami Miracle took place.

With all of that said, it remains to be seen whether the Dolphins can carry the momentum gained from last week’s astounding finish into another crucial game of December football. The Minnesota Vikings, despite their 6-6-1 record, are a tough team to beat, especially in Minneapolis. In order to take down the Vikes, Miami will need to play solid defense given that scoring against Mike Zimmer’s defensive unit will be a challenge. To keep Kirk Cousins from moving the ball downfield, the Dolphins will need to take away his best weapon, and that pass-catcher is the subject of today’s Opposing Player Spotlight.

Each week of the 2018 season, I’m highlighting one player on the opposing team that Dolphins fans should be watching out for. This week, that player is Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen.

Fact Check

Position: WR

Experience: 5th season

Age: 28

Height/Weight: 6’2”, 200 lbs

College: Minnesota St.

Stat Review

Adam Thielen has quickly risen to the very top of the list of the NFL’s most successful and talented wide receivers. The Minnesota native went from special teams ace to spot starter to superstar over the course of just three seasons and now sits inside the top three in receiving yards this year. In 13 games, the Vikings’ top wideout has 103 receptions, 1,236 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns. In fact, he’s accumulated over 300 more receiving yards than fellow Vikings wideout Stefon Diggs despite the fact that Thielen is making almost $10 million fewer per year than his counterpart.

Just before his breakout season in 2017, Thielen signed a four-year $19 million contract extension with the Vikings. It seams the team saw his potential and ensured he remains in purple and gold for the foreseeable future, but with plenty of pass-catchers signing astronomical contracts around the league and creating less production that the 28-year old Thielen, you can be sure he’ll cash in soon enough.

Key Matchups

Last week, Dolphins fans were robbed of a fantastic matchup on the perimeter when stud cornerback Xavien Howard was unable to suit up, leaving a combination of Torry McTyer, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Walt Aikens to cover Josh Gordon on the outside. The inexperienced trio had mixed results, allowing Gordon to vacuum five receptions on eight targets for 96 yards. For the sake of defensive coordinator Matt Burke’s unit and Miami’s playoff chances, fans are hoping that Howard’s week off will be enough to allow him to play this weekend.

Should Howard take the field, his bout with Thielen will be the matchup to watch on Sunday. Thielen is having nothing short of an All-Pro season, while Howard is doing his part in reaching NFL stardom as well. Despite missing last week’s contest, Howard leads the NFL with seven interceptions and has been one of the league’s top defensive backs all season long. If Howard is able to line up across from Thielen, everyone better have their popcorn ready for an epic matchup.