We’ve made it to prediction time again, ladies and gentlemen, and it’s time for you to call your shot when it comes to this weekend’s contest at U.S. Bank Stadium between the Houston Texans and your Minnesota Vikings.
As always, we have our prediction widget from our friends at The Crowd’s Line for you to track how accurate you’ve been with your Vikings predictions this season.
The Vikings got some bad news on Friday, as it doesn’t appear as though wide receiver Stefon Diggs is going to be able to go for this one. Diggs was listed as doubtful with the groin injury he’s been dealing with over the past couple weeks. The injury caused him to cool off significantly after a fast start to the season, and with the Vikings coming up to their bye week after this week’s game, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Vikings rest him.
This might not be a killer for the Vikings, though. As Sam Bradford is getting more comfortable in the offense, he’s finding more and more targets to get the football to. On Monday night against the Giants, he completed passes to nine different receivers, so he’s developing chemistry with more than one pass catcher in the Minnesota offense. Kyle Rudolph has been the primary beneficiary of Bradford getting more comfortable in the system, but guys like Charles Johnson and. . .surprisingly. . .Cordarrelle Patterson should benefit in Diggs’ absence as well.
One of the keys to this one, however, might be how the run game goes against a Texans defense that has not been good against the run and has lost J.J. Watt for the season. Jerick McKinnon did a pretty good job against the Giants, managing to put up 85 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, and the Texans’ defense ranks just 27th in the NFL against the run so far this year. If McKinnon and Matt Asiata can continue to expose the Texans’ run defense, it would put the Vikings in a lot of manageable down and distance situations like we saw on Monday night.
When Houston has the ball, they have plenty of weapons on offense. DeAndre Hopkins is among the best wide receivers in football, rookie Will Fuller has gotten off to a very good start, and running back Lamar Miller has done well since coming over from the Miami Dolphins. The issue, however, has been the play of quarterback Brock Osweiler. The Texans gave Osweiler a huge contract this offseason, and while he’s had his moments, he’s had a lot of issues with turnovers. He’s thrown six interceptions so far through the first four games, and his struggles have contributed to the Texans having the 29th-ranked scoring offense in the league, averaging just 17.2 points/game.
My guess is that Hopkins is going to be seeing a lot of Xavier Rhodes on Sunday afternoon, and we’ll once again have to see if Rhodes (and the rest of the Vikings’ cornerback rotation) can stand up to the challenge. Given what they’ve done to the receiving corps of the Carolina Panthers and the New York Giants over the past couple of weeks, it’s hard to think that they won’t be.
Houston has also had offensive line issues so far this season, much like the Vikings have. Though the Texans will apparently be getting star tackle Duane Brown back for this one, they don’t know how well. . .or how long. . .he’s going to be able to go for, having not seen the field since Week 17 of the 2015 regular season. After not registering any sacks against the Giants, this could be the week that the Vikings get themselves back on the right track.
This is something that’s been said a lot over the course of this week concerning this matchup, but it’s pretty much the way I feel about things, too. If Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, and Eli Manning couldn’t move the football and generate points against this Minnesota defense, I darn sure don’t think that Brock Osweiler is going to be able to.
Vikings 24, Texans 13 to keep the Vikings’ undefeated start to the 2016 season going. That’s my prediction.
Who do you folks have in this weekend’s game?