Minnesota Vikings vs New England Patriots : This should be a good one. The 8-3 New England Patriots, fresh off a convincing victory over their division rivals, host the 6-4-1 Minnesota Vikings. While the Patriots have the better record, this game should be anything but a gimme for New England. The Vikings boast one of the most complete rosters in the league, making this poised to be a rough, tightly contested game. Still, it is the NFL, so anything and everything can happen. Without further ado, let’s take a dive into the Patriots vs Vikings bold predictions.
No position grouping has taken more of a beating than the New England Patriots running backs. Jeremy Hill, Sony Michel, and Rex Burkhead have all missed a significant time this season recovering from their various injuries. However, the unit is finally getting some help with the return of Rex Burkhead.
As mentioned earlier, Burkhead will probably be third in the running back order. However, Burkhead has two things going for him which should help him find the endzone. For one, he’s the Patriots most complete back. He’s not as good a runner as Michel or as good a pass catcher as James White, but he’s capable of making plays in both facets of the game. Because of this, he could see some goal line work so opposing defenses can’t key in on what the Patriots offense is trying to do.
Additionally, Burkhead is surprisingly gifted as a red zone runner. Despite his smaller frame, Burkhead was one of the more efficient red zone runners in the league last year. Red zone running is a serious flaw in the Patriots offense, and Burkhead could help fix it. Look for the now-healthy running back to make multiple trips to the end zone.
There may not be a more dangerous wide receiver duo than Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. So far, the duo has combined for an absurd 172 receptions for 1,928 yards and 14 touchdowns. When both receivers have been on the field, no team has been able to hold them to less than a combined 100 yards.
The New England Patriots will be the first to do that. Stephon Gilmore is skilled enough to match up against anybody, including the insanely talented Adam Thielen. Jason McCourty is a strong CB2 and should be able to slow Diggs with help from a safety. New England lives to take away an opponents best option, and Thielen and Diggs are easily the best weapons on the Vikings roster. If the Minnesota Vikings are to pull off the upset, they’ll have to do it with their secondary pieces.
Traditional box scores don’t reflect just how dominant Trey Flowers is. Despite having just 3.5 sacks on the season, Flowers is one of the most disruptive edge defenders in all of football. Pro Football Focus currently has Flowers ranked as the second-best edge defender in the league, and the fourth-year star is arguably the most important player on the Patriots defense.
Flowers is due for a big game, and he’ll have one on Sunday. Flowers is too disruptive for his sack total to stay so low, and he’ll start getting the sacks he should’ve had earlier in the year. The Vikings offensive line isn’t that great, so Flowers should be able to win his matchups all day long.
With Gilmore and McCourty holding down Thielen and Diggs, quarterback Kirk Cousins will be forced to hold the ball longer than he’d like. This is all Flowers will need to start racking up sacks by the wayside. The former fourth-round pick is one of the most underrated players in the league, and he’ll start getting his recognition against the Vikings.