As formidable as the Vikings have been at home so far this season, it’s tough to see them losing this one against an unproven quarterback like Brandon Allen. Denver has a proud defense that will keep things somewhat close for a while, but the Vikings will pull away in the end.
THREE BIG STORY LINES
Kubiak faces his old team
The Vikings hired Gary Kubiak after the Broncos decided not to put their longtime offensive coordinator and coach back on staff. Kubiak and several of his trusted assistants helped remake the Vikings offense around strong running and play-action.
Vikings face Allen in second career start
Broncos QB Brandon Allen — a 27-year-old former sixth-round pick who saw his first NFL action in a win over the Browns — will try to lead the Broncos’ 28th-ranked offense to a successful day at U.S. Bank Stadium, where the Vikings are 4-0 and winning by an average of 16 points.
One more before the bye
The Vikings are among the teams with a Week 12 bye — the latest in the NFL — and hope to head into their week off without any further health issues. WR Adam Thielen, DT Linval Joseph, G Josh Kline and S Anthony Harris are out Sunday, meaning the Vikings will have to get through one more game without a handful of starters.
TWO KEY MATCHUPS
Vikings offensive line vs. Broncos LB Von Miller
Denver is running Vic Fangio’s defense now that the former Bears coordinator is the Broncos’ head coach, which means Miller will rush off both sides of the line much like Khalil Mack does for Chicago. The seven-time Pro Bowler has only four sacks this season, but he’s tied with Joey Bosa for seventh in the league with 48 pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.
Vikings WR Stefon Diggs vs. Broncos CB Chris Harris
The Broncos have used Harris to shadow four receivers this season — Allen Robinson, Davante Adams, T.Y. Hilton and Odell Beckham — and it wouldn’t be surprising if Diggs gets the same treatment with Thielen missing his third straight game. Diggs, who saw his first NFL action against Denver as a rookie, has seen plenty of attention, including double teams, in recent weeks, and he’ll face off against the four-time Pro Bowler.
ONE STAT THAT MATTERS
2-5 The record of quarterbacks at U.S. Bank Stadium when they have made 16 or fewer career starts. Only Dak Prescott (in his 12th career start in 2016) and Josh Allen (in his third in 2018) have beaten the Vikings at home that early in their starting careers.
THE VIKINGS WILL WIN IF …
They’re able to contain the Broncos’ running back tandem of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman, providing opportunities for their pass rush to exploit a favorable matchup against Denver’s offensive line in U.S. Bank Stadium’s crowd noise.
THE BRONCOS WILL WIN IF …
They’re gifted with the kinds of turnovers Kirk Cousins hasn’t committed lately, their defense can keep Dalvin Cook contained and Allen can make a few big plays downfield. It’s hard to see Denver’s offense doing enough to beat the Vikings unless the Broncos are the beneficiaries of some game-turning plays.
Ben Goessling's prediction: Vikings, 24-13
Win probability: 80%