Vikings May Be without 2 Defensive Starters at BUF

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The Minnesota Vikings (7-1) travel to New York for a date with the Buffalo Bills (6-2) on Sunday, hoping to extend the current win streak to seven games.

In franchise history, Minnesota has notched seven-game in-season winning streaks six times (1969, 1970, 1973, 1975, 1998, 2017).

And if they bump the mark to seven this year, it may occur without two prominent defensive starters.

Cameron Dantzler

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The third-year cornerback injured his ankle in the Vikings win over Washington and was replaced — rather effectively — by rookie Akayleb Evans. On Monday, head coach Kevin O’Connell mentioned Dantzler’s ailment, “Cam got an ankle yesterday. I think it’s probably a long shot that he’s available to us this week.”

Dantzler starts on the outside of Minnesota’s defense, opposite Patrick Peterson, and Evans would likely get the start in his stead.

“It’s kind of in that week-to-week timeline, but I never say never with our sports medicine staff. They’re going to pour into Cam, and he’ll attack this thing and see where he’s at as the week goes on. But we definitely want to make sure Cam’s healthy and ready to go when he gets back out there,” O’Connell added.

Dantzler has a 105.2 passer-rating-against so far in 2022, with a 67.0 Pro Football Focus grade, the 16th-best among all Vikings players.

If the temporary job is not Evans’, fellow rookie Andrew Booth or veteran Kris Boyd could see action, too.

Dalvin Tomlinson

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Heading into Week 9, O’Connell used the same week-to-week verbiage about Tomlinson, who ultimately did not play at the Commanders. James Lynch started in place of Tomlinson, while newcomer Khyiris Tonga experienced snaps (and performed well).

Moreover, when Tomlinson was ruled out of the Washington showdown, little suspense was evident, indicating his absence was a no-brainer near the end of the week. For now, he doesn’t feel like a guarantee to play versus the Bills.

Behind Za’Darius Smith, Danielle Hunter, and Patrick Peterson, Tomlinson is the Vikings best defensive asset, according to PFF, and the combo platter of Lynch and Tonga would be called on again for duty if the 28-year-old misses a second straight game.

The Vikings are six-point underdogs in the matchup with the Bills. Buffalo’s quarterback Josh Allen injured his elbow in Week 9, and the six-point point spread will narrow if he cannot play. Case Keenum will start if Allen can’t go.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).