WEEK 4: 3:25 p.m. at Denver • ch. 9 (100.3-FM, 1130-AM)

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BRONCOS

17

VIKINGS

One man’s prediction: The Vikings have started to get on a bit of a roll with back-to-back wins by double digits. But they may have trouble keeping that momentum going as they climb the Rockies to play the undefeated Broncos. The home team has the league’s top-ranked defense, a pair of formidable pass rushers and, oh yeah, one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. The Vikings will put up a fight, but this is probably too tall a task.

Three keys

Protecting Teddy

Offensive tackles Matt Kalil and T.J. Clemmings are facing their biggest challenge of the season in Broncos outside linebackers DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller. Ware, who usually lines up against the left tackle, was named the AFC’s Defensive Player of the Month for September. Miller, who uses his speed to blow by right tackles, has been equally disruptive. Kalil and Clemmings will need to be at their best.

Pounding Peyton

Many of the talking heads on TV, radio and Twitter have argued that Peyton Manning is showing his age. Sure, the Broncos are still working out the kinks offensively with new coach Gary Kubiak bringing his zone running scheme to town. But the Broncos are 3-0, with Manning throwing for 755 yards and five touchdowns. The Vikings defense must get after Manning like it did against the last two Pro Bowl quarterbacks they played.

Without wideouts

The Vikings will be shorthanded at wide receiver. Starter Charles Johnson, who injured a rib against the Chargers, was ruled out on Friday. Slot receiver Jarius Wright injured a hand in that win and is questionable to play after missing a pair of practices this week. That means Cordarrelle Patterson and Adam Thielen will be asked to assume bigger roles. Rookie Stefon Diggs will finally be activated, too.

Player to watch

 

Xavier Rhodes, Vikings cornerback

Rhodes was knocked out of the Chargers game with a concussion, but he suited up every day in practice this week. That’s a huge relief for the Vikings, who must keep Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas in check. Thomas has the kind of size, speed and shiftiness after the catch that can give cornerbacks fits. Rhodes, who limited Detroit’s Calvin Johnson two weeks ago, is likely to shadow Thomas.