EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings (10-3) return home to host the Cincinnati Bengals (5-8) after a three-game road trip. The Vikings had their eight-game win streak snapped in Week 14, falling 31-24 at Carolina. The Vikings own a 5-1 home record, and the Bengals hold a 2-4 mark on the road in 2017. The Vikings 10-3 start is the best start through 13 games for Minnesota since starting 11-2 in 2009.
The Vikings offense, which ranks seventh in the NFL in yards per game (369.3), has been led by the consistent play from WR Adam Thielen, who is tied for third in the NFL with 1,161 receiving yards and seventh in the NFL with 80 receptions. QB Case Keenum has stepped in to start 11 games, posting an 8-3 record and compiling 18 touchdowns against seven interceptions and a career-best 96.2 passer rating. RBs Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray have filled the void left by rookie starter RB Dalvin Cook, helping the Vikings rush for 121.1 yards per game, eighth in the NFL.
The Vikings defense has held opponents to 293.4 yards per game (third in the NFL) and 18.1 points per game (third in the NFL). The Vikings defense has limited opponents to 88.3 rushing yards per game (second in the NFL) and 3.7 yards per rush (sixth in the NFL). Minnesota has limited opponents to 205.1 passing yards per game, fifth in the NFL.
DE Everson Griffen is third in the NFL with a career high 13 sacks this season, marking the third time in his career that he has reached double digits (12 in 2014, 10.5 in 2015). LB Eric Kendricks, who has led the Vikings in tackles each of his first two seasons, is leading the Vikings with 118 tackles (coaches' stats) and has tied his career high with 13 tackles on three separate occasions this season (at PIT, vs BAL, at CLE). S Harrison Smith, who has 15 interceptions and nine sacks since entering the NFL in 2012, is joined by Panthers LB Luke Kuechly as the only two in the NFL since 2012 to have 11 interceptions and 7 sacks.
NATIONAL TELEVISION: CBS
Play-by-Play: Ian Eagle
Analyst: Dan Fouts
Sideline: Evan Washburn
NATIONAL RADIO: SPORTS USA
Play-by-Play: Josh Appel
Analyst: Hank Bauer
LOCAL RADIO: KFAN-FM 100.3/KTLK-AM 1130
Play-by-Play: Paul Allen
Analyst: Pete Bercich
Sideline Reporters: Greg Coleman and Ben Leber
Pre-Game Show: Mike Mussman – 10 a.m. CT
KFAN and KTLK serve as the flagship stations for the 72-station, five-state Vikings Radio Network.
The Vikings defense has held opponents to a 27.8 percent (45/162) conversion rate on third downs, the best mark in the NFL. The offense has converted on 46.0 percent (81/176) of third downs, which is second in the NFL.
WR Adam Thielen has the second-most receptions on third downs in the NFL (30), and 23 of those have converted first downs, which also ranks second in the NFL.
QB Case Keenum completed 16 consecutive passes from Week 14-15, tying Tommy Kramer's team record set at Green Bay on Nov. 11, 1979.
TE Kyle Rudolph has caught 13 of his 15 red zone targets, the third-most RZ catches in 2017.
The Vikings offense is tied for seventh in the NFL with 56 plays of 20 yards, 13 of which have come on the ground, the fourth-most in the NFL behind the Eagles (17), Bills (16) and Saints (15).
The Vikings have 11 scoring drives of 80 yards in 2017, seven more than they totaled in all of 2016.
The Vikings have allowed only 20 sacks this season, the fifth fewest in the NFL and have had five games without allowing a sack, tying a franchise record for most in a single season.
Before being sacked at Detroit (11/23), QB Case Keenum went a franchise record 122 pass attempts without being sacked, breaking the previous team record of 118 by Daunte Culpepper in 2002.
The Vikings rush defense has allowed only 17 runs of 10 yards in 2017, the fewest in the NFL. Denver is second, having allowed 24 such runs.
The Vikings defense ranks fourth in red zone touchdown percentage, holding teams to a 42.9 percent touchdown rate while in the red zone, trailing only Jaguars (35.0 percent), Chargers (39.3 percent) and Bengals (41.3 percent).
• Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer served as the Bengals defensive coordinator from 2008-13, leading defenses that ranked in the top 10 for yards allowed in four of the six years.
• Vikings CB Terence Newman played for the Bengals from 2012-14, starting in all 41 games in which he appeared with Cincinnati. Newman, who played under Zimmer in Cincinnati and Dallas, again joined Zimmer in Minnesota after signing with the club via free agency in 2015. Newman played in three playoff games (two starts) as a Bengal.
• Bengals assistant strength coach Jeff Friday was a strength coach for the Vikings from 1996-98.
• Vikings LB coach Adam Zimmer served as the Bengals assistant DBs coach in 2013.
• Bengals T Andre Smith played for the Vikings in 2016 and started the first four games of the season before being placed on IR after suffering a triceps injury.
• Vikings LB Emmanuel Lamur originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Bengals in 2012. Lamur played in 29 games (15 starts) with the Bengals from 2012-15 before joining the Vikings via free agency during the 2016 offseason.
• Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph is a Cincinnati native. Rudolph attended Cincinnati's Elder High where he was named First Team All-American by USA TODAY as a senior TE. Rudolph was also a star basketball player who was named his conference's player of the year three times.
• Vikings LB Eric Wilson attended the University of Cincinnati from 2013-16.
• Vikings WR Jarius Wright (2010-13) and Bengals DE Chris Smith (2008-11) were teammates at Arkansas.
• Vikings DE Danielle Hunter and Bengals LB Kevin Minter were teammates at LSU in 2012.
• Bengals CB Darqueze Dennard (2010-13) and Vikings CB Trae Waynes (2011-14) were teammates at Michigan State.
• Vikings LB Ben Gedeon (2013-16) and DT Ryan Glasglow (2012-16) were teammates at Michigan.
• Bengals WR Cody Core (2012-15) and Vikings WR Laquon Treadwell (2013-15) played at Ole Miss together.
VIKINGS TOP PERFORMERS VS. BENGALS
Blake Bell: 1 game, 4 receptions, 43 receiving yards
Everson Griffen: 1 game, 5 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 TFL
Latavius Murray: 1 game, 11 att., 44 rush yards, 7 receptions, 36 rec. yards
Terence Newman: 1 game, 4 tackles, 2 PD
Brian Robison: 2 games, 4 tackles, 1.0 sack, 2 TFL
Marcus Sherels: 1 game, 7 tackles (5 solo), 1 PD, 1 punt return for 22 yards
VIKINGS BIG DAYS VS. BENGALS
• CB Terence Newman, as a member of the Dallas Cowboys, recorded four tackles and two passes defensed in his lone game against Cincinnati (11/7/04).
• Vikings RB Latavius Murray had 18 touches (11 rushes, career-high seven receptions) for 80 scrimmage yards (44 rushing, 36 receiving) in his only career game vs. Cincinnati (9/13/15).
• Vikings TE Blake Bell secured a career-high four receptions for 43 yards vs. Cincinnati (12/20/15) as a member of the 49ers.
• Vikings DE Everson Griffen had 1.5 sacks in the last matchup at Cincinnati (12/22/13). It was one of 14 multi-sack (1.5 ) games for Griffen in his career.
VIKINGS-BENGALS SERIES NOTES
• The home team has won 11 of the 12 matchups between the two teams, including the past 5 games.
• The two teams met for joint practices during 2016 training camp in Cincinnati prior to their preseason game on Aug. 8, 2016.
• This teams met on Christmas Day in 1989, a Vikings 29-21 victory.
• The Vikings only road win in the series came on 9/27/92.
VIKINGS-BENGALS SERIES BY THE NUMBERS
. Record vs. Bengals: 6-6
. Last regular season game: Bengals 42-14 (2013)
. Vikings largest winning margin: 35; Vikings 42, Bengals 7 (1992)
. Bengals largest winning margin: 9; Bengals 37, Vikings 8 (2005)
. Current series streak: Bengals 1
. Vikings longest win streak: 2, (1989-92)
. Bengals longest win streak: 1 (5 times)
. Most Points, Vikings: 42, (1977, 1992)
. Most Points, Bengals: 42 (2013)
. Most Combined Points: 56; Bengals 42, Vikings 14 (2013)
. Fewest Points, Vikings: 0, (1980)
. Fewest Points, Bengals: 3, (1998)
. Fewest Combined Points: 14; Bengals 14, Vikings 0 (1980)
A WIN WOULD...
• Clinch the NFC North crown for the second time in four seasons under Zimmer.
• Be the best start to a season through 14 games since Mike Zimmer took over in 2014 and the best start for the franchise since starting 11-3 in 2009.
• Move Zimmer's record as a head coach to 37-26 and give him his first win against his former team in his first game vs. the Bengals franchise.
• Would be give the Vikings a 6-1 mark at home in 2016 and an 11-4 mark at U.S. Bank Stadium all-time.