The Vikings face a Bengals team missing all three of its starting linebackers and both of its regular starting cornerbacks. The Vikings should be able to shake off a loss against the Panthers, beat Mike Zimmer's former team and claim a division title. Prediction: Vikings 27, Bengals 13.
Three big story lines
Zimmer vs. his old team
Mike Zimmer, whom the Vikings hired away from Cincinnati in 2014, will face a defense that still looks almost identical to the one he built. When the Bengals are healthy, they still have eight defensive starters who played for Zimmer.
thielen the top dog?
During the Vikings' joint practice with the Bengals in August 2016, Cincinnati cornerbacks Dre Kirkpatrick and Adam Jones refused to line up against Adam Thielen and Isaac Fruechte. With Jones on injured reserve and Kirkpatrick out with a concussion, Thielen could get the last laugh.
long-awaited return home
After three straight road games, the Vikings return to home, where they can clinch the NFC North title with a win.
two key matchups
vikings cb Xavier Rhodes vs. bengals wr a.j. green
Rhodes' next assignment figures to be shadowing Green, who has 65 catches for 950 yards this season. Zimmer could put Rhodes on Green, a player Zimmer watched up close in Cincinnati.
vikings t rashod hill vs. bengals de Michael Johnson
The Vikings tried to sign Johnson as a free agent in 2014 and 2015. He had a pair of sacks last week against the Bears and likely will be matched up with Hill, who figures to start at left tackle with Riley Reiff doubtful for the game because of an ankle injury.
one stat that matters
35 Number of times the Bengals have gained 20 yards or more on a play this season, fourth fewest in the NFL.
The Vikings will win if…
• They make consistent drives against a defense similar to theirs, and get back to their red zone production, even without tight end Kyle Rudolph.
The bengals will win if…
• They run the ball enough to keep the Vikings' pass rush from coming after Andy Dalton, and find Green for a few big plays.
Goessling's win probability