Vikings vs Broncos Game Preview
Denver and Minnesota meet at the Mile High City with each team brandishing a new look. Ex-Vikings quarterback Case Keenum just joined the Broncos hoping to fix their offence while the Vikings acquired gunslinger Kirk Cousins from the Redskins.
There will be no “revenge game” here for Keenum who is most likely sitting this one out for Paxton Lynch. There might one for Vikings’ backup Trevor Siemian, however, as he faces his old team, the Broncos. With two strong defences and shaky quarterbacks, this game could see plenty of struggling.
The Vikings were supposedly the most ferocious defence in the NFC last season allowing under 18 points a game in the regular season. But they needed a blown play from the Saints to advance and got thoroughly exposed by the Eagles’ backup quarterback, Nick Foles.
That’s why Minnesota used its first pick to upgrade its secondary drafting explosive cornerback Mike Hughes who should also bolster their return game. This team should once again contend but how far they go depends on their new quarterback.
After winning the Super Bowl three seasons ago, the Broncos quickly regressed as a team and it’s a combination of many small things. They lost decency at quarterback, their receivers became worse, and their defence saw an exodus of key players.
John Elway pressed acquired Keenum to bring stability to the offence while upgrading select positions on defence. It might be good enough to improve the Broncos but not quite good enough to help them contend in a stacked division.
Narratives aside, the Vikings are justified favourites here. They have depth issues in several key positions on both offence and defence but that’s nothing compared to the holes the Broncos have. They should roll.
Vikings vs Broncos Head-to-Head Records
All tied up. The Broncos and Vikings have seven wins apiece in 14 all-time meetings. They first clashed in 1972, which Minnesota won 23-20. And they have almost alternated wins and losses. This is a “rivalry” that is pretty even and has no clear superior.
Although in recent meetings, the Broncos have held the edge. Denver has won their last three meetings from 2007 onwards. All of these came by a field goal. In fact, in their last ten games, the score was decided by no more than a touchdown. The biggest win came by eight points, a victory from Minnesota in 2003.
There isn’t that much shared history between the teams although they have both become defensive beasts in recent years and are perennial playoff contenders. Denver won the Super Bowl not too long ago while Minnesota is usually among the favourites to emerge from the NFC.
Given how volatile the Vikings can get, it’s hard to forecast which team will come out on top in future meetings. But if they stand pat, Minnesota has the better team though not by much.
Minnesota Vikings Recent History
The Vikings have taken their fans on a roller coaster trip in recent seasons. They drafted this generation’s greatest running back in Adrian Peterson in 2006 then signed former archenemy Brett Favre. This culminated in a short but sweet run to the conference finals where they lost to the Super Bowl champs, the Saints.
Following that experiment, the Vikings cleaned house and sandwiched a 10-6 season and a one-and-done playoff run in between losing seasons under new coach Leslie Zimmer. Upon his dismissal, the Vikings hired defensive guru Mike Zimmer and this begun their ascent back to the top.
Under Zimmer, the Vikings consistently ranked as a top defence. They won two division titles along with finishing with 13 wins in 2017, their best mark since 1998. Provided they maintain their powerful defence and their offence delivers, the Vikings could be just as good as their late 90s incarnation for the foreseeable future.
Denver Broncos Recent History
The Raiders were the AFC version of the Lions in the 2000s. After being on the losing end of one of the most lopsided Super Bowls, Oakland would go 13 straight seasons without posting a winning record including ten where they only won five games or less.
During this span, the Raiders went through an NFL-record nine head coaches. They finally settled with Jack Del Rio in 2015 and along with hot prospects like Carr, Amari Cooper (WR), and Khalil Mack (LB), the Raiders finally returned to the playoffs on the strength of 12 wins. This was their best record in 17 seasons.
It would be short-lived as injuries and changes to the coaching staff doomed the Raiders to their dysfunctional old selves. But heading into the future, the Raiders are healthier and have better coaches. More wins are on the horizon.
Minnesota Vikings Outlook
For the first time in the new millennium, the Vikings finally have a solid foundation. Zimmer and the defence are here to stay. The offence, while still undergoing changes, looks promising. The Vikings need to keep plugging away and building, especially since they play in the gruelling NFC North.
Cousins will be their X-factor. The former Redskin evolved from being a backup quarterback to being a prolific starter. The Vikings rewarded him with a humongous deal that signals they are confident he is their new franchise quarterback. But he has yet to prove it and he hasn’t even had a full season to learn the new offence.
It sounds cliche but the Vikings will only go as far as Cousins takes them. They have a talented young running back in Dalvin Cook and both Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are gifted receivers. Their o-line could use work but there should be no excuses for Cousins. Now is their time.
Denver Broncos Outlook
This is one of the hardest teams to predict. On one hand, the Raiders have plenty of talent on both ends of the ball. On offence, they have Carr, Cooper, Marshawn Lynch at running back, and a solid offensive line. They also added receivers Martavis Bryant and Jordy Nelson.
They also added Greg Olson, an impeccable quarterback coach as their new shot-caller on offence. Then on defence, they added a slew of veterans on top of drafting solid prospects for the defensive line. This team has almost everything. But they are still the Raiders.
Gruden hasn’t coached in a decade and rumours persist he isn’t seeing eye-to-eye with upper management. Injuries and off-field issues somehow find a way to ruin some of the best players the franchise has had, historically. Here’s hoping none of these actually affect the team and they can be Super Bowl contenders for real.
You can’t overlook just how much more stacked Minnesota is, at least on paper. Even with their backup units, Minnesota has fewer holes around its team. Siemian isn’t the greatest quarterback but he’s manageable and knows the Broncos more than Lynch knows the Vikings.
The Vikings have depth at running back. Behind Cook is Latavius Murray, a serviceable backup. And they signed Kendall Wright at receiver, who is a solid insurance in case Thielen or Diggs get hurt. Most importantly, they added second-round pick Brian O’Neill to their offensive line.
Denver made a few upgrades too but still has work to do. They added Bradley Chubb and Josey Jewell to their linebackers to back up solid veterans like Shane Ray and Brandon Marshall. On offence, they took Courtland Sutton (WR) who is slotted as a backup but could start.
But Denver is still without a decent running back, their defensive line is thin, and they may have the worst special teams unit in the AFC. These are advantages the Vikings have that can’t be ignored. They win.