Early Look: Vikings-Bengals

Posted Dec 11, 2017

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Vikings will get a much-needed return to the comforts of home this weekend when they play at U.S. Bank Stadium for the first time since Nov. 19.

Minnesota, which is 10-3 and situated atop the NFC North, can clinch the division with a win.

The Vikings saw their eight-game win streak end Sunday with a 31-24 loss on the road at Carolina.

The Bengals are 5-8 and in third place in the AFC North behind Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

Cincinnati lost 33-7 to the Bears on Sunday, and have lost four of their past six games.

Here’s an early look at Sunday’s game.

Passing: Vikings quarterback Case Keenum completed 27 of 44 passes for 280 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions against the Panthers. He had a passer rating of 75.9 on Sunday.

Keenum is 8-3 as a starter this season. Keenum has thrown for 2,983 yards with 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton completed 14 of 29 passes for 141 yards with a touchdown and interception against the Bears. He had a passer rating of 59.7.

Bengals backup A.J. McCarron played in the fourth quarter and completed four of eight passes for 47 yards.

Dalton has completed 236 of 389 passes (60.7 percent) for 2,747 yards with 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions this season. He has a passer rating of 90.4.

Rushing: Jerick McKinnon led the way on the ground Sunday, rushing for 46 yards on seven carries. Keenum had 40 yards, while Latavius Murray added 14 yards on nine carries.

The Vikings hit the 100-yard mark as a team for the 10th time in 13 games.

Murray leads the Vikings with 586 yards and five touchdowns this season. McKinnon has 460 yards and three touchdowns.

The Vikings rushed for 100 total yards Sunday, and rank eighth in the NFL with 121.1 rushing yards per game.

Cincinnati ran for 70 yards on 13 carries with a score against the bears. Giovani Bernard had 62 yards on 11 attempts, and Brian Hill had eight yards on two carries.

Rookie Joe Mixon, who did not play Sunday, leads Cincinnati with 518 yards and has four touchdowns on the ground. Bernard has 260 rushing yards. 

The Bengals rank 31st in rushing with 79.4 yards per game.

Receiving: Wide receiver Adam Thielen led the Vikings with 105 receiving yards and a touchdown on six receptions. It was his fourth 100-yard game of the season.

Stefon Diggs had six receptions for 64 yards, and tight end Kyle Rudolph had three receptions for a 41 yards and a score.

Thielen now has 80 receptions for 1,161 yards and four scores on the season. He ranks tied for third in the NFL in receiving yards.

Rudolph leads the Vikings with seven touchdown receptions, which tied his total from last season.

Bernard led the Bengals with six catches for 68 yards Sunday, and wide receiver A.J. Green had five receptions for 64 yards. Brandon LaFell had 24 receiving yards and a score. 

Green leads the Panthers with 65 catches for 950 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. He is trying for the sixth 1,000-yard season of his career Sunday.

Tight end Tyler Kroft has five touchdowns while LaFell is second on the team with 452 receiving yards.

Defense: The Vikings had one of their worst performances of the season Sunday against Carolina. The unit gave up 345 total yards, the second-most of 2017.

Minnesota allowed a season-worst 216 rushing yards, the most by more than 100 yards. The Vikings gave up a pair of runs against the Panthers that went for 60 yards or more.

Everson Griffen and Linval Joseph each had a sack for the Vikings, and safety Andrew Sendejo had an interception.

Griffen leads the Vikings with 13 sacks, which is a career high, and safety Harrison Smith has a team-high three interceptions.

Minnesota ranks third in the NFL in both yards allowed per game (293.4) and points allowed per game (18.1).

Cincinnati allowed 482 yards of offense to Chicago, the highest total allowed by the Bengals this season. Michael Johnson had a pair of sacks for the Bengals. 

Linebacker Carl Lawson has 7.5 sacks, and defensive tackle Geno Atkins has7.0 sacks. Eight different Bengals have one interception.

The Bengals rank 13th in the league in points allowed per game (20.8) and are 19th in yards allowed per game (345.5).

Special Teams: Vikings kicker Kai Forbath made three of his four field goal tries against Carolina and hit both extra points. He is 27 of 32 on field goals this season.

Punter Ryan Quigley averaged 43.7 yards on three punts and had one of them downed at the 2-yard line.

Cincinnati kicker Randy Bullock made his lone extra point try Sunday and did not attempt a field goal. He is 13 of 15 on field goals this season.

Bengals punter Kevin Huber averages 47.7 yards per punt.

Over The Years

The Vikings are 6-6 all-time against Cincinnati, a series that includes no playoff meetings.

The teams have nearly alternated wins and losses for the entire series, which dates back to 1973. 

This will be the first meeting between the teams since Mike Zimmer became the Vikings head coach in 2014. Zimmer was the Bengals Defensive Coordinator from 2008-2013.

Last meeting: Bengals 42, Vikings 14, Dec. 22, 2013, in Cincinnati

With Zimmer leading a strong Bengals defense, the Vikings offense struggled against Cincinnati.

Minnesota gained just 209 yards of offense, had four turnovers and went 0-for-9 on third down as the Vikings fell to 4-10-1 on the season.

The Vikings tied the game at 7 early in the first quarter when Jarius Wright caught a 36-yard touchdown pass.

But it was all Cincinnati the rest of the way as the Bengals rattled off 35 straight points to take a commanding lead.

Cordarrelle Patterson had a rushing touchdown later in the game, and Griffen notched 1.5 sacks against the Bengals. 

Dalton threw for four touchdowns, two to Green, and the Bengals had 426 yards of offense.

Zimmer was hired by the Vikings to be the head coach less than a month after this game.