You can get the odds and over-under later, but first listen up to the Star Tribune’s Six Bold Predictions …
MATT VENSEL, Vikings beat writer
Harrison Smith grew up in Knoxville, Tenn., and rooted for Peyton Manning when the quarterback played for the Volunteers. Smith will play against Peyton for the first (and probably last) time Sunday. Manning praised Smith earlier this week, so is aware of the safety’s big-play ability. I expect Smith to have a big game with a sack, a forced fumble and an interception. Let’s call it a Harry hat trick.
MARK CRAIG, Vikings beat writer, On The NFL columnist
The Vikings will use Adrian Peterson and a strong pass rush to make the game closer than many would expect. They’ll actually lead in the fourth quarter, but Peyton Manning will drive the Broncos 99 7/8 yards. With no time left, he’ll audible into the perfect play, limp for his life behind a makeshift line and launch the game-winning 24-yard pass into the end zone. But the ball will wobble, float, wheeze and quack just enough to convince the media that Manning’s arm is shot, his career is over and that the 4-0 Broncos would be better off starting Brock Osweiler at Oakland next Sunday.
JIM SOUHAN, columnist
The Broncos win, 27-16. Peyton Manning plays brilliantly. After the game, Roger Goodell finds that footballs at altitude become overinflated and tries to suspend Manning for four games. Manning fires Goodell. The world becomes a better place.
CHIP SCOGGINS, columnist
Broncos quarterback and Tennessee Vols legend Peyton Manning throws four touchdown passes and then celebrates in the locker room by singing the most beautiful song ever written: Rocky Top, you’ll always be home sweet home to me, good ole Rocky Top, Rocky Top Tennessee …
JASON GONZALEZ, Vikings interim backup beat writer
The Vikings will play like they’re out of breath throughout the first half in the Mile High City, but find their lungs and legs in the third and fourth quarters to rally for the win. Adrian Peterson said he’s spending extra time conditioning. We’ll see how much that pays off at a much higher altitude.
CHRIS MILLER, pro sports team leader
After Mike Zimmer pooh-poohs the altitude all week, Vikings kicker Blair Walsh kicks a 60-yard field goal as time expires to send the game into overtime. But the Broncos defense is still too much for the Vikings in overtime, and they force a turnover set up a winning FG by Brandon McManus.
Bovada has the Broncos as a seven-point favorite and the over-under at 45.