After a successful road trip to Dallas, the Minnesota Vikings have returned home and will soon face the Denver Broncos. It isn’t considered a premier matchup, but this game is actually quite important as the Vikings look to chase down the Packers in the NFC North.
With Green Bay only a win ahead of Minnesota and currently on a bye week, a victory over the Broncos would bring the Vikings within striking distance of their nemesis. Having beaten Minnesota earlier this season, the Packers would still hold the tiebreaker when it comes to playoff positioning. That said, a win this weekend would be a huge step towards reclaiming the NFC North.
The “trap” game
It’s been said about other games this season, but fans are now referring to this matchup as another “trap game.” A trap game is one that looks like an easy win on paper, but it could be sneaky dangerous and end up as a disheartening loss. Vegas currently has the Vikings favored to win by double digits, but Zim’s squad can’t afford to take their foot off the gas. I expect Minnesota to play a somewhat conservative game, run the ball often, and try to control the clock.
With only three wins on their resume, the Broncos may not look like big competition for the potentially playoff-caliber Minnesota Vikings. However, their record doesn’t tell the whole story. The Broncos have lost several games this season by one score or less, and they also boast the fourth-best overall defense in the league.
As for their offense, quarterback Brandon Allen is inexperienced as a rookie, but that’s not to say he lacks talent. At this point, Allen is a bit of a mystery, and the Vikings’ pass rush will need to get in his face early and often. Running back Phillip Lindsey is also a big threat, especially if the Vikings are without their two starting defensive tackles. Last week, Minnesota was able to cover for an injured Linval Joseph, but the defensive line just took another blow with the loss of Shamar Stephen.
Home field advantage
It seems like it came a little early this year, but snow has arrived in the Twin Cities. Fortunately, the frigid temps will only affect tailgaters on Sunday. U.S. Bank Stadium has become a safe haven for Mike Zimmer’s team, as the Vikings are currently undefeated at home this season.
The combination of an indoor venue and a rowdy home crowd creates an unforgiving environment for opposing offenses, and Allen will have his hands full. Coming off a bye week, the young quarterback has had some extra time to prepare, but nothing can prepare you to play at the Bank.