The Chiefs have shown they’re capable of putting up plenty of points even without Patrick Mahomes, and their speed will test the Vikings secondary. But the Vikings should be able to win a shootout if one arises; Dalvin Cook could be in line for another big day against Kansas City’s porous run defense.
THREE BIG STORY LINES
Moore, not Mahomes, for Chiefs?
With 2018 NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes rehabbing his dislocated knee, it’s expected the Chiefs will go with Matt Moore at QB, though they activated Chad Henne off injured reserve Saturday. Moore threw for 267 yards and two TDs last week against the Packers.
Cousins looks to stay hot
After winning NFC Offensive Player of the Month honors, QB Kirk Cousins takes his success on the road against a 5-3 Chiefs team that’s cranked up its blitz frequency; they’ve blitzed each of the past three QBs they’ve faced at least 30 percent of the time.
Road gantlet begins at Arrowhead
The Vikings kick off a tough second-half road schedule at one of the NFL’s most imposing venues; they spent the week practicing with artificial noise that was loud enough to be heard several hundred feet from their practice facility. After K.C., they travel to Dallas.
TWO KEY MATCHUPS
Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes vs. Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill
The Vikings haven’t used Rhodes to shadow an opposing receiver in weeks, but he’s still likely to see plenty of Hill, who frequently lines up on the left side of the field for the Chiefs. Hill’s speed and footwork should make him one of the tougher matchups of the season for Rhodes; the Chiefs receiver posted 1,479 yards and 12 touchdowns a year ago.
Vikings line vs. Chiefs DT Chris Jones
Jones has missed the Chiefs’ past three games because of a groin injury, but he seems likely to return Sunday. If he plays, he’ll present a difficult matchup for Garrett Bradbury and Pat Elflein especially; he had two sacks in the Chiefs’ first five games before he was injured.
ONE STAT THAT MATTERS
2.68 Average points per drive for the Chiefs — the second-best figure in the NFL, according to Football Outsiders. The Vikings, with 2.55 points per drive, are fourth.
THE VIKINGS WILL WIN IF …
They’re able to press the ball to the edges of the Chiefs’ defense with their outside zone scheme, and deal with Kansas City’s ability to create big plays with Tyreek Hill and the rest of their perimeter athletes.
THE CHIEFS WILL WIN IF …
They’re able to blitz Cousins effectively, create a couple of turnovers and build enough of a lead that the Vikings can’t lean on their ground game as much as they’d like. Even though the Vikings could hold up in a track meet, they’re likely trying to keep the game from turning into one.
Prediction: Vikings, 30-27
Win Probability 55%