• Kickoff: 7:20 p.m. Sunday
  • Where: Empower Field at Mile High, Denver
  • TV: NBC
  • Radio: KFAN-FM 100.3; Sirius/XM 226 (Vikings), 225 (Broncos), 88 (Westwood One)
  • Line: Broncos by 2½

While the Vikings are 2-3 at home this season, they're 4-1 away from U.S. Bank Stadium. They'll take their four-game road win streak to Denver, where they'll face a 4-5 Broncos team that doesn't look as beatable as it did earlier in the season. The Broncos have won three straight games, forcing nine turnovers against teams led by Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen while getting better play from longtime Vikings nemesis Russell Wilson.

Here's a look at what to expect from the Sunday night matchup:


Streaking teams meet at Mile High: When the Vikings and Broncos each dipped to 1-4 on Oct. 8, their matchup seemed like a prime candidate to be moved out of the Sunday night window. Since then, though, the two teams are a combined 8-1, having pulled themselves back into their respective wild-card races with improved defensive play. The Broncos, who allowed 70 points to the Dolphins in September, haven't allowed more than 22 points in their past four games, while the Vikings have held four of their past five opponents under 20.


Broncos have turned up pressure in recent weeks: For the season, Denver ranks last in the NFL with a 16.2% pressure rate on opposing quarterbacks, according to Pro Football Reference. But the Broncos have found ways to affect quarterbacks in their last two games, pressuring Mahomes on 44.4% of his dropbacks before getting to Allen 33.3% of the time last week. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph is known for his blitzes, but has dialed back his blitz percentages somewhat this season. The Broncos, though, have received consistent pressure from linebacker Nik Bonitto and defensive end Zach Allen in recent weeks. The Vikings will try to protect Joshua Dobbs as effectively on Sunday night as they did against a strong Saints front last week.

Simmons leads opportunistic defense: Of the Broncos' nine takeaways in their last two games, safety Justin Simmons has been involved in four of them, intercepting passes against both the Bills and Chiefs while forcing a fumble against Kansas City and recovering one against Buffalo. Though he's been selected to only one Pro Bowl, he's been a second-team All-Pro three of the past four years. He's had moments where he's appeared susceptible in coverage, but he's intercepted at least three passes in six consecutive seasons. The Broncos use him primarily as a deep safety, while often asking cornerback Patrick Surtain II to shadow receivers.


How will Vikings adjust without Hicks?: Linebacker Jordan Hicks was placed on injured reserve this week after he needed emergency surgery on his right shin injury Sunday to alleviate concerns of compartment syndrome. It means Ivan Pace Jr. will wear the Vikings' defensive headset and organize the huddle, as the Vikings try to get pressure on Wilson against a veteran offensive line that's struggled at times this season. Anthony Barr, who returned to the Vikings on the practice squad this week, intercepted Peyton Manning in his last game with the Vikings in Denver; he was promoted for the game and could get on the field if the Vikings see a role for him in Hicks' absence.

Wilson excelling in more limited role for Broncos: In recent weeks, as they've sought to curtail their turnover issues, the Broncos have run more frequently on early downs while building a structured passing game around play action for the 35-year-old Wilson. He's averaging only 6.9 air yards per pass, the lowest of his career by nearly two yards, but he's been more accurate as coach Sean Payton has reined him in. Wide receiver Jerry Jeudy is dealing with a hip injury, but Cortland Sutton could test a Vikings secondary that will be without starting cornerback Akayleb Evans.



Out: CB Akayleb Evans (calf), QB Jaren Hall (concussion), WR Justin Jefferson (hamstring), G Chris Reed (foot)

Questionable: RB Alexander Mattison (concussion), QB Jaren Hall (concussion), LB Brian Asamoah II (ankle)


Out: S P.J. Locke (ankle)


The Broncos' ability to force takeaways, while cutting down on their offensive mistakes, means this game will be a tougher task than it had appeared for the Vikings. They'll have to limit turnovers, while keeping their defensive structure together without Hicks against a veteran quarterback playing at home. But it's tough to pick against the Vikings, as effectively as they're playing, and if they can continue their string of solid run defense against a Broncos team that likes to control the clock, they'll push their win streak to six games. Prediction: Vikings 23, Broncos 19