Frigid starts melted away and two of the NFL’s warmest teams, the Minnesota Vikings and Denver Broncos, get together in the Week 11 Sunday night game.
Minnesota (6-4) rides a five-game streak to Denver despite a spate of injuries to key players including quarterback Kirk Cousins and wide receiver Justin Jefferson. The Vikings are coming off a 27-19 victory over the New Orleans Saints last Sunday.
And don’t look now, but Denver (4-5) is riding a three-game winning streak with victories over the Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills. The Broncos held on for a 24-22 win on the road against the Bills on Monday to pull within one game of .500 and just on the outside of the present playoff picture in the jam-packed AFC.
The Vikings hope to welcome back multiple players from injuries this weekend, including Jefferson.
Wide receiver K.J. Osborn could also return after sustaining a concussion against the Atlanta Falcons on Nov. 5. Osborn practiced in full this week and could give quarterback Joshua Dobbs another reliable target alongside rookie wideout Jordan Addison and tight end T.J. Hockenson.
Jefferson took part in limited drills in practice, and his status is uncertain against the Broncos. He has missed the past five games because of a hamstring injury.
“We’ll see how he responds to that,” Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said after Jefferson took part in limited drills. “A little bit more (Thursday) and then throughout the week. We’re kind of in that day-to-day (mode), kind of ramping-him-up phase now. We’ll determine if it’s possible at all to have him for this weekend.”
Minnesota also could be without running back Alexander Mattison, who sustained a concussion last week. He did not take part in practice Wednesday, which could mean an increased role for Ty Chandler and Kene Nwangwu out of the backfield.
The Broncos had two players idle on Wednesday. Safety P.J. Locke was sidelined by an ankle injury and guard Ben Powers was out because of a foot injury.
Wideout Marvin Mims (ankle), who has blossomed into a dangerous return specialist, and linebacker Baron Browning (wrist, knee) were limited during practice.
The anticipated Sean Payton Effect might be showing through in Russell Wilson’s performance. His 104 passer rating is significantly higher than the 84.4 passer rating a season ago. Wilson has completed 67.9 percent of his passes for 1,806 yards, 18 touchdowns and four interceptions.
The Broncos’ running game, another Payton staple, is picking up the pace in the second half of the season. Javonte Williams has led the way with 436 rushing yards to go along with 109 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
“The more we run the ball, the more it helps our offense get the play-action going and get the deep shots going,” Broncos center Lloyd Cushenberry said. “So we want to get the run game going. That’s the goal for any O-lineman. That’s what we feel comfortable with, and that’s the plan every game.”
Minnesota will try to maintain the magic since the arrival of Dobbs, who is set to appear in his third game since the Vikings acquired him from the Arizona Cardinals.
In his first two games with Minnesota, Dobbs has passed for 426 yards and three touchdowns. He also has rushed for 110 yards and two scores.
This is the first meeting between the teams since Nov. 17, 2019, when the Vikings held on for a 27-23 win on their home field. Minnesota leads the all-time series 8-7.
–Field Level Media
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