Up next for the Vikings, 4-0 and off to their best start since 2009, are the one-loss Texans, who poured big money into offensive playmakers this spring. Mike Zimmer’s defenders will shut down those guys next before kicking up their feet during their bye week. Prediction: Vikings 20, Texans 17
Three big story lines
BUILDING BLOCK BY BLOCK
Offensive line play remains a concern, but that group gave reason for hope Monday by keeping QB Sam Bradford clean and paving the way for the team’s first 100-yard rushing performance of 2016.
INJURIES MOUNTING ON O
The Vikings, already shorthanded on offense, could be down two more starters. RT Andre Smith has been ruled out, and WR Stefon Diggs is doubtful because of a groin injury. TE Kyle Rudolph will play.
SO, WATT DO WE DO NOW?
When it comes to injuries, the Texans can relate to what the Vikings are going through. They must finish the season sans superstar defensive end J.J. Watt and barely beat the Titans last week without him.
Two key matchups
CB Xavier Rhodes vs. WR Deandre Hopkins
Rhodes, with a little help from his friends, kept Odell Beckham Jr. under wraps Monday night. Sunday, he will tangle with another Pro Bowl WR in Hopkins, who still is trying to click with new Texans QB Brock Osweiler.
RT Jeremiah Sirles vs OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney
Without Watt, the Texans are relying on Clowney, the underperforming No. 1 overall pick from the 2014 draft, to get after the QB. They will line him up all over the place, but he has most often attacked the right tackle.
Stat that matters
0 Turnovers on offense in four games for the Vikings, eight fewer than the Texans.
The Vikings will win if …
Their O-line maintains its positive momentum and the defense can keep all of Houston’s many weapons, including Hopkins and speedy RB Lamar Miller, under wraps.
The Texans will win if …
Clowney and their pass rush can find a way to fluster Bradford into multiple picks and the Vikings D uncharacteristically allows big plays to Hopkins and rookie Will Fuller.
Vensel’s win probability: