Bet them to cover a 16½-point spread at your own risk. But with rookie Josh Allen making his second career start, at U.S. Bank Stadium, behind a line that’s given up its fair share of pressure in the first two weeks of the season, the Vikings should cruise at home.
THREE BIG STORY LINES
Bailey debuts as kicker
After Daniel Carlson’s three missed field goals at Lambeau Field cost him his job last week, the Vikings signed veteran Dan Bailey to a one-year, $1.75 million deal this week.
Frazier serves as ‘collaborating’ coordinator
Former Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, who was fired after the 2013 season, is the Bills’ defensive coordinator, but after Buffalo’s atrocious defensive start last week, coach Sean McDermott took defensive play-calling duties from Frazier. They will continue “collaborating” on defensive plays this week.
Tall task for Allen
The seventh overall pick in the 2018 draft, Allen completed 18 of 33 passes for 245 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions in his first NFL start last week. He took five sacks at home against the Chargers; he’ll make his first start on the road.
TWO KEY MATCHUPS
Vikings LT Riley Reiff vs. Bills DE Jerry Hughes
When the Vikings last faced the Bills in 2014, Hughes was in the middle of a career year, and posted 1 ½ sacks while getting the better of Matt Kalil. He’s 30 now, but he has a sack and seven pressures in two games. Reiff will see plenty of him on Sunday.
CB Xavier Rhodes vs. Bills WR Kelvin Benjamin
Rhodes had a big hand in controlling Benjamin during the Vikings’ win over the defending NFC champion Panthers in 2016, and he could wind up shadowing the 6-foot-5 receiver on Sunday, as the Vikings try to throw off Allen’s rhythm on the road.
ONE STAT THAT MATTERS
68.9 The combined passer rating of rookie quarterbacks starting against the Vikings defense in the Mike Zimmer era. Dak Prescott, Mitch Trubisky, DeShone Kizer and Carson Wentz combined to go 2-3 against the Vikings as rookies.
THE VIKINGS WILL WIN IF…
They avoid unforced errors against an aggressive Bills defensive front, take advantage of big plays downfield and put consistent pressure on Allen.
THE bills WILL WIN IF…
Allen keeps the Vikings off guard with his mobility, the Bills can force the Vikings into several turnovers and LeSean McCoy — playing with injured ribs — can put together a big day against the Vikings defense.
GOESSLING’s Prediction Vikings, 24-10
Win Probability 85 percent