After having their eight-game winning streak snapped in Week 14 by the Carolina Panthers, the Minnesota Vikings will take another stab at wrapping up their second NFC North title in three years. In order to do it this week, they’ll have to take down a Cincinnati Bengals’ team that, based on last week’s performance, might be ready for the offseason to begin.
The Vikings played an uncharacteristically bad game in Carolina last Sunday, as they turned the ball over three times and allowed Case Keenum to be sacked six times. They still had their chances to win at the end, but a long run by Cam Newton set up the game-winning touchdown for the Panthers, and the Vikings lost by a score of 31-24. The loss dropped the Vikings to 10-3, but they’re still in firm control of the NFC North, and a win on Sunday will clinch it.
The Bengals hosted another NFC North team, the Chicago Bears, in Week 14 action. Cincinnati scored late in the first quarter to take a 7-6 lead, but the Bears ran off 26 consecutive points to finish the game and coast to a 33-7 victory. The loss dropped the Bengals to 5-8, meaning that the competitive portion of their season is most likely over with, and it could be the beginning of the end for head coach Marvin Lewis, who has been on the sidelines with the Bengals since 2003.
Speaking of coaches, this will be Mike Zimmer’s first regular season game against his former team. Zimmer was the defensive coordinator of the Bengals under Lewis from 2008 to 2013, taking the head coaching job with the Vikings before the start of the 2014 season.
The Bengals have never won in Minneapolis, and the Vikings will attempt to keep it that way on Sunday afternoon. Kickoff time is scheduled for noon Central time on CBS.