The Minnesota Vikings (4-1) will travel to Miami to take on the Dolphins (3-2) at 1:00 pm (EST) at Hard Rock Stadium. Minnesota is a 3.5-point favorite and are given a 67.1% chance to win according to ESPN’s FPI. The Vikings are coming off a thrilling 29-22 win over the Bears. Miami, on the other hand, suffered a beat down at the hands of the New York Jets 40-17. This was largely due backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater being knocked out of the game early on. With that let’s take a look at what to expect from Minnesota at Miami.
The Minnesota Vikings are heading to Miami looking to notch one more win before heading into their bye week. Minnesota has played in three close games where they needed game winning drives to win. This week they play a Miami team that has struggled and who will be starting their third string quarterback in Skylar Thompson.
Minnesota should win this game easily, but the way they’ve played as of late doesn’t make that a guarantee. For Minnesota, a win here is big as they’d advance to 5-1 heading into their bye week, keeping their lead in the NFC north. A loss would drop them to 4-2 and questions about the defense would likely become more prominent. As of now, if they can keep winning, that problem will not as big of deal as it would be if they start losing games.
Kirk Cousins started last week’s game going 17-for-17 in the Vikings 29-22 win. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/AP Photo)
What To Watch
What I’ll be watching on Sunday is the Vikings offense. Minnesota has been very good offensively the past few weeks, looking very efficient. So far this season the Vikings are averaging 374.4 yards of total offense with 272.6 passing and 101.8 rushing. Minnesota during their last two weeks have scored on 11 of their 19 total drives with another two being missed field goal attempts. Really six drives in their last two games haven’t resulted in scores/attempts. While they still have some issues on the offense, it has started to click, taking advantage of some not so good defenses.
I’m expecting another big game from the Vikings against a Dolphin defense that gives up 400.2 yards of total offense a game (290.2 passing and 110.0 rushing). The Vikings should expect another good outing as Miami shouldn’t be able to keep up with Kirk Cousins and Co. who are starting a third string quarterback.
My biggest question is what is going on with the defense? Just when you think you have some sort of idea about it, they have you second guessing yourself again. The Vikings have given up 383.2 yards per game (262.8 passing and 120.4 rushing). Teams like the Bears and Saints who have struggled on offense have had great games when playing the Vikings. Minnesota gave up 271 yards and 22 points to Chicago and 338 yards and 25 points to the Saints. Minnesota really needs to shut down a struggling Miami offense Sunday, otherwise the concerns on defense will need to be addressed in the coming bye week.
Miami this season has averaged 361.6 yards of total offense with 278.8 passing and 82.8 rushing. While the Dolphins will be limping into this matchup at quarterback, Minnesota cannot afford to let Skylar Thompson look good. This needs to be a shutdown effort defensively to begin to show this defense can play at a more consistent level.
The Minnesota Vikings have four players on their injured list.
- Akayleb Evans (CB) – Concussion
- Za’Darius Smith (LB) – Knee
- Alexander Mattison (RB) – Shoulder
- Ty Chandler (RB) – Thumb
The Vikings placed running back Ty Chandler on the IR on Tuesday with a thumb injury. Evans, Smith, and Mattison were all limited participants at Wednesday’s practice.
Miami has had a rough couple of weeks and are now sitting at 3-2, coming off consecutive losses to the Bengals and Jets. Now with Tua out another week and Teddy Bridgewater being assigned to the backup role Sunday; it’ll be up to third string quarterback Skylar Thompson to help right the ship for the Dolphins. A win for the Dolphins would put them at 4-2, ending their two-game losing streak. A loss on the other hand drops them to .500 at 3-3, extending their losing streak to three games, something they don’t want to happen after starting 3-0.
What To Watch
What I’ll be watching on Sunday will be how the Miami defense does against a good Vikings offense. The Vikings so far this year average 374.4 yard per game (272.6 passing and 101.8 rushing). Minnesota also has the ability for some big play action with Justin Jefferson. Miami will have their hands full with the loaded Viking offense.
Miami so far this year has allowed 23 points on average and has twice allowed more than 35 points in a game. The defense also has struggled giving up 400.2 yards a game with 290.2 passing and 110.0 rushing. Miami must try and slow down the Vikings offense that has begun to find its rhythm. Minnesota has been very good against mediocre defenses and Miami cannot allow themselves to be added to that list.
My biggest question going into the game is can Skylar Thompson steer Miami back on track or is Tua the only one who can find success with this offense. During their first three games with Tua at quarterback the Dolphins were averaging 27.6 points per game and 355.3 yards of total offense. Without Tua the past two weeks Miami has averaged 16 points per game and 333 yards of total offense.
Thompson last week against the Jets had a completion percentage of 57.6%, throwing for 166 yards and one interception. He was without star wide receiver Tyreek Hill who left the game with an injury. Hill is expected to play, so I’m interested to see how he does with a young and inexperienced quarterback. If Thompson struggles against the Vikings defense, Miami better hope Bridgewater and/or Tua get healthy quickly because right now there aren’t a whole lot of defenses struggling more than the Vikings.
The Dolphins have 11 players on their injury list.
- Xavien Howard (CB) – Groin
- Teddy Bridgewater (QB) – Head
- Raheem Mostert (RB) – Knee
- Durham Smythe (TE) – Concussion
- Zach Sieler (DT) – N/A
- KAder Kohou (CB) – N/A
- Robert Jones (G) – N/A
- Clayton Fejedelem (S) – N/A
- Elijah Campbell (S) – N/A
- Tua Tagovailoa (QB) – N/A
- Austin Jackson (G) – Ankle
Tua was back at practice but will not be active on Sunday against the Vikings. Jackson was to be designated to return from the IR on Wednesday. Mostert was at practice on Thursday. Smythe was a non-participant at Wednesday’s practice while Bridgewater was a limited non-contact participant at Thursday’s practice. Howard has said he expects to play against the Vikings on Sunday. Sieler, Kohou, Jones, Fejedelem, and Campbell are all listed as questionable and their status and injury are unknown at the moment.
My bold prediction for the game is that Kirk Cousins throws for 300 yards and four touchdowns and no interceptions on Sunday. Minnesota’s offense has been clicking the past few weeks and Miami’s defense has not been great (just remember that they got torched by Lamar Jackson and the Ravens). Minnesota needs to win and to win big against a struggling and beat up Dolphin team. On Sunday Kirk Cousins and co. will light up the Miami secondary on a big day for the Vikings.
The following betting lines are according to ESPN’s Pick Center.
- Minnesota: -3.5
- Miami: +3.5
- Minnesota: -175
- Miami: +148
Where To Watch
Minnesota at Miami will air on Fox at 1:00 pm (EST) on Sunday. The commentators for the game will be Kenny Albert (play-by-play), Jonathan Vilma (analyst), and Shannon Spake (sideline). You can watch the game on the Fox Sports app or on FoxSports.com. The game will also be on NFL Sunday Ticket (Directv). Streaming services that have Fox are fubo TV, Hulu (with live TV), Sling TV, and Youtube TV.
With both Tua out and Bridgewater as the backup, this game looks to be a repeat of last week for Miami. Tyreek Hill being back will help the Dolphins get some points on the board, but Skylar Thompson and Miami will be no match for the Vikings offense as they continue to find their stride. Kirk Cousins will go off and the Vikings will pull away late not needing another late drive to beat Miami. Minnesota wins 38-20
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