Before each game, our Vikings coverage team makes predictions graded on a 1-10 scale of difficulty. Leader at the end of the season covers the Christmas Eve game in Green Bay … and so does the loser.
The Vikings meet the Texans at noon at U.S. Bank Stadium with a 4-0 record, seeking one more victory before the bye week. Here’s how the boys see it …
MATT VENSEL, beat writer
With Stefon Diggs doubtful to play due to a groin injury, the Vikings again hand a significant role to Cordarrelle Patterson, who had five grabs against the Giants on Monday night. Patterson will again take advantage of the extra snaps with his first touchdown on offense since Week 7 of the 2014 season.
Degree of difficulty: One. The talented young fella with great potential is out of the dog house, and everyone is loving him again. No I’m not talking about Matt … I’m talking about Cordarrelle. Sheesh.
MARK CRAIG, On the NFL writer
Brock Osweiler will throw three interceptions, including a pick-six, and 72 million fewer touchdowns than the millions he’s making as the Vikings roll 23-9.
Degree of difficulty: Four, because I think that means Blair Walsh would kick three field goals and two extra points? My math right on that?
ANDREW KRAMMER, Vikings digital reporter
Jarius Wright will not only see the season’s first extended playing time without Stefon Diggs available, but will also catch the game’s first touchdown on a 52-yard screen.
Degree of difficulty: Four. Jarius Wright was making pretty good money for standing on the sidelines not doing anything … where can I get a job like that? Wait … don’t answer that.
JIM SOUHAN, columnist
With Stefon Diggs limping, the question for the Vikings is not whether they can control the Texans’ offense, but whether they can score if their best receiver isn’t available or at full strength. Last week I picked Jerick McKinnon to break out, and he did. This week, I’m picking Cordarrelle Patterson to break out, because the Vikings need him. It may be on a toss sweep, or a jet sweep, or a bubble screen or even a legitimate downfield route. Patterson has shown himself willing to help in any way possible. This is the ideal game for the Vikings to ask more of him. Vikings 23, Texans 16.
Degree of difficulty: Four, just because that score is kinda wacky. It’s official, btw — CP84 is a hot pick from our panel, but surely Chip will go a different direction …
CHIP SCOGGINS, columnist
The Vikings re-introduced Cordarrelle Patterson to the offense last week. That trend continues but with even more production. Patterson scores an offensive touchdown — either receiving or rushing — and catches six passes in victory.
Degree of difficulty: Two. To be fair, Chip likes all former Tennessee players, even after suffering through that tough loss to A&M. And after watching the Gophers’ game, Chip’s love for college football might be waning.
MICHAEL RAND, digital sports editor
They keep saying this is a trap game, but the only trap I see is the one Mike Zimmer is going to set for young quarterback Brock Osweiler. The Texans will score first and make it look easy, but by the end Osweiler will wish he wasn’t so tall so he wouldn’t be able to see the results of all his interceptions.
Degree of difficulty: Three. I can see it now … Rand: “Do you wish you weren’t so tall?” Osweiler: “Only when I get on an airplane.” Rand: “What about when you see all those interceptions, amirite?” (Osweiler hits Rand with wallet.)