For the third time in the season's first five weeks, the Vikings will face a playoff team from last year as they are slated to welcome the Houston Texans to U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday for a noon CT kickoff. Both teams are coming off wins in Week 4, with Houston handling the Tennessee Titans at home and the Vikings defeating the New York Giants at home on Monday Night Football.
Here are five storylines to chase during the buildup to Week 5's Vikings-Texans...
1. Next challenge for Vikings defense: DeAndre Hopkins
The Vikings have done well against top wide receivers under head coach Mike Zimmer, including holding Odell Beckham, Jr. to a career-low 23 receiving yards last week and Kelvin Benjamin to no catches two weeks ago. Zimmer and his crew will be challenged once again on Sunday when they face Texans star DeAndre Hopkins, who is beginning to rewrite the Texans record books for wide receiver production. Hopkins had 111 receptions for 1,521 yards and a Texans record 11 touchdowns last season, solidifying himself as one of the NFL's best pass catchers. He became the second youngest player in NFL history to reach 2,000 receiving yards and the fastest player in Texans history to reach 3,000 yards, doing so in his 42nd career game. On top of all that, Hopkins has a talented running mate at wide receiver in rookie Will Fuller, who has 323 receiving yards and three total touchdowns in his first four career games.
2. Bradford continues to gain continuity with offense
Last Sunday marked the one-month anniversary of Sam Bradford being acquired by the Vikings, but his play makes it look like Bradford has been a stalwart in the Vikings offense for seasons. He was 26 of 36 for 262 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions for a passer rating of 101.9 against the Giants, connecting with nine different receivers during the game. In three games as the Vikings starter, Bradford has thrown for 719 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions while authoring a passer rating of 105.5, completing 69.5% of his passes and helping guide the team to wins in each contest.
3. Offensive production at a premium versus these two defenses
As great as Hopkins and Bradford have played so far, points should be at a premium on Sunday with two of the NFL's top defenses through the first four games of the season set to take the field. The Vikings have the NFL's No. 2 scoring defense at 12.5 points per game and the Texans aren't far behind at No. 8 (18.3 points per game). Both teams also rank in the top 10 defensively in total defense, first downs allowed, passing defense and sacks.
4. Rudolph looks to stay hot as he chases history
Another game, another touchdown for Kyle Rudolph last week. Rudolph's latest touchdown was his third in as many games and the 25th of his career. He is now three shy of Steve Jordan's Vikings team record for touchdowns by a tight end (28). In four games this season, Rudolph has 19 catches for 221 yards and three touchdowns. Sunday could be his toughest matchup of the season, though, as the Texans have allowed only 12 receptions for 92 yards to tight ends this season.
5. A win would…
Each game represents 1/16th of the season and teams do their best to treat each game equally and not put more into one than the others. With that being said, a win on Sunday would be both historic and momentous for the Vikings because it would A) give the Vikings an eight-game regular season win streak, the longest the team has had since 2002-03; B) improve Mike Zimmer's overall record to 23-15; C) give the Vikings momentum going into the bye week; and D) keep the Vikings perfect at home with a 3-0 record at U.S. Bank Stadium this season.