The Kansas City Chiefs will hope to right their ship on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. While doing so, they will attempt to sink Minnesota’s ship at the same time and end the Vikings four game winning streak. Entering this contest, the Chiefs are still sitting above water so to speak. Stars like Patrick Mahomes, Chris Jones and Frank Clark are getting healthy and Kansas City’s second half schedule looks light on paper. With that said, let’s get it started with our preview of Chiefs versus Vikings.
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Mahomes is officially questionable for Sunday and we may not know if he is playing or not, until right up to game time. Matt Moore was serviceable while stepping in last week. But, there is optimism that Mahomes can return and this offense can thrive like expected entering the season. Amazingly, this entire starting offense has only been fully healthy for less than one quarter of football this season.
Even if he does not return this week, we saw things can go smoothly against a dominant defense. First of all, the receivers will hope to continue to be in sync with Moore. Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins are capable of anything after the catch once the ball is in their hands. Additionally, the cornerbacks have been the lone soft spot on the Minnesota defense. Inconsistencies by Xavier Rhodes or Trae Waynes could open up some big play opportunities for this Chiefs offense.
Dalvin Cook is enjoying his best professional season so far. His tough, physical running style has reappeared from what we saw him do at Florida State. Entering this week’s game, Cook leads the league in rushing yards. This is a matchup that feels like the Vikings will try to attack the Chiefs non-stop with the run. Minnesota had done that before in the season. In other games while leaning on the legs of Cook, quarterback Kirk Cousins has only had to throw it ten times in some games.
While Kansas City’s run defense has shown signs of improvement, this week’s task will be more than a tall order. The key will be to get all eleven hats to the ball. Gang tackle him, and don’t let Cook hit that extra burst of speed in the open field. Most of all, make sure you don’t get cooked by Mr. Cook.
Purple People Insurance
In order for the Chiefs offense to stay afloat against the Vikings, the offensive line will have to build off of their courageous effort of late. Kansas City has allowed just three sacks in the last two weeks. However, this Minnesota defensive front could be the most impressive pass rush they have seen so far.
The Vikings are right behind the Chiefs in sacks this season with 23. Danielle Hunter has grown into a much more respected pass rusher around the league. Currently, he has eight sacks on the year. Others like Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph and Stephen Weatherly work well in attacking the quarterback. What makes this defensive front so daunting is the speed and aggressiveness that they display. If the Chiefs are unable to match the Vikings physical prowess, it could be a long day for the Kansas City offense.
Cool Down Cousins
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins earned NFC Offensive Player of the Month honors for October. To begin November, the Chiefs will hope to cool him off and slow his roll.
It is not impossible for this to happen. Cousins has had his fair share of letdowns before. Like the game a couple of weeks ago against Joe Flacco, Kansas City will need to force the opposing quarterback to beat them. Defending Stefon Diggs can be difficult. But, Minnesota could be without Adam Thielen once again. If he is unavailable, then the Chiefs will hope to shutdown Diggs and force younger skill players to have to make plays. After all, the Chiefs pass defense has quietly been playing admirably lately. To boot, there will be possible opportunities where Cousins will heave a few YOLO balls up for grabs. We have seen the Chiefs get after the quarterback consistently the last two games. If they are successful in doing that again this week, then the Vikings will be thrown through a loop. Will they be able to overcome that?
Matchup To Watch: Chiefs Pass Rush vs Vikings Offensive Line
We mentioned how if Cousins is thrown off, things can escalate quickly and often take a turn for the worst for the QB. Minnesota has dealt with offensive line issues for a few seasons now. Meanwhile, the Chiefs enter this game against the Vikings with 14 sacks in the last two games. It is very possible that Chris Jones and Frank Clark could both return from injury as well. If Steve Spagnuolo continues to dial up pressure, then eventually the Vikings offensive line could get worn out.
All time, the Chiefs hold a 7-5 record against the Vikings. This includes the Super Bowl IV matchup between the two teams as well.
Cousins has hit successfully many times on deep passes. He has the NFL’s best passer rating on throws over 20+ yards.
That past stat may be opened most by play action. Minnesota uses play action passing more than any other team in the league, at 35.9 percent.
Mecole Hardman scored a touchdown last week and is hoping to get the ball more. There is evidence why that would not be an awful idea. Hardman currently leads all rookie wide receivers in yards per target at 11.69.
Thank you for reading this week’s game preview for Chiefs versus Vikings. Be sure to stay tuned to Full Press Coverage, for more great sports and NFL content.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.