The Vikings are back on the road again but have a rare destination on the docket this week.
Minnesota (6-4-1) will take on the New England Patriots (8-3) on Sunday at Gillette Stadium a place where only a few Vikings have played before wearing the Purple and Gold.
One of those players is Everson Griffen who was on the team when the Vikings lost 28-18 in 2010.
“We have to go out there and play our best game to beat one of the best,” Griffen said. “Yeah we lost that game, that was the last time I played there in Foxborough. I am excited to play there again.”
Another veteran member of the defense Harrison Smith was on the team when the Vikings suffered a 30-7 defeat at the University of Minnesota in 2014.
Bill Belichick this week compared Smith to former Steelers great Troy Polamalu and former Ravens legend Ed Reed early this week, so Smith has made quite the impression on the Patriots head coach.
“You just need to study a little more film to get the familiar kind of view point,” Smith said. “For me, I approach them all the same, but they have won a lot of championships and they’ve won a lot of games. They obviously win for a reason, and we have to know that.”
The Patriots won last week against the New York Jets 27-13 at MetLife Stadium.
The Vikings are coming off of a prime-time victory over the Packers and would be the No. 5 seed in the NFC Wild playoffs if the postseason started this week.
Experts across the internet submitted their predictions to all NFL games ahead of the much anticipated Week 13 slate.
Let’s see what is expected in the Vikings game against Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Patriots 34, Vikings 30, Elliot Harrison, NFL.com
Back in the spring, when the NFL schedule was released, I thought this would be one of the top games of 2018. Fast-forward to late November. While it is still purdy, this matchup doesn't resonate like it did in April. Both organizations were considered front-runners for the Super Bowl, especially with the Vikings landing Kirk Cousins in the offseason. Yet, a rocky start by Minnesota coupled with the ascendancy of the Saints, Rams and Chiefs has made this would-be headliner into more of a really fun opening act for Sunday night's game in Pittsburgh. The Patriots remain in the upper echelon of the league, but in order to beat the Vikings, Tom Brady must ratchet up his game a notch. Unlike in New England's win over the Jets last week, Minnesota won't let the Pats scurry on the ground into the secondary. If Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes is a no-go, that translates to an instant competitive advantage for Brady. We'll all find out together.
Patriots 30, Vikings 21, Bleacher Report Staff
The Minnesota Vikings have won five of their last seven games to rejoin the playoff race in the NFC, but our analysts agree they're in the wrong place at the wrong time with a Week 13 matchup against the New England Patriots.
"It seems like they've been doing it quietly, which is odd because the Patriots are so intensely covered," Brad Gagnon said, "but New England has been killing it at home this season. They're 5-0 at Gillette Stadium with an average margin of victory of 13.8 points, and that includes a shorthanded win over the now-streaking Texans, a double-digit win over the now-red-hot Colts and a heavyweight victory over the first-place Chiefs.
"And the Pats are especially potent in late-season home games. They've won 20 of their last 22 games played after Week 12 in Foxborough with Tom Brady serving as the primary quarterback. That's too high a mountain for a Vikings team that is only 2-2-1 on the road and is dealing with injuries to key starters Xavier Rhodes and Stefon Diggs."
The Vikes offensive line — which ranks 30th at Pro Football Focus — has been terrible all season, while Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins has been mistake-prone and inconsistent. The New England defense has by no means been good, but that unit gets takeaways, and this is the kind of offense Bill Belichick loves to exploit.
Patriots 30, Vikings 27, Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News
The Vikings have not been as good on the road, and the Patriots have played their best at home. But Minnesota's defense is stacked enough to make this more of a grind for Tom Brady. And New England's defense has enough holes for Kirk Cousins to exploit with his talented wideouts, plus Dalvin Cook and Kyle Rudolph. Cousins will duel with Brady well, but the X-factor here is special teams. That’s how the Patriots will win a close one.
Patriots 30, Vikings 19, David Steele, Sporting News
Last week against the Jets, the Patriots did not look exactly like the team that usually has already had everything click into place for a postseason run. The Vikings could make things uncomfortable for them on offense and defense. On the other hand, Bill Belichick likely has plans for neutralizing that offense, because that’s what the Patriots do best this time of year.
Patriots 30, Vikings 23, Pete Prisco, CBS Sports
The Patriots haven't been as prolific on offense this year, but I think this will be a game where Tom Brady throws it a lot – and has success. The Vikings are good against the run and OK against the pass. The New England defense will get after Kick Cousins, who plays behind an average line. The Patriots will take it.
Patriots by 7, Ryan Cusick, Pioneer Press
Former Vikings receiver Cordarrelle Patterson raised eyebrows last Sunday when he was caught on video grabbing and squeezing the crotch of the Jets’ Henry Anderson during a pileup.
Patriots 20, Vikings 17, Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports
The Vikings are going to need to be able to win on the road if they have any designs on returning to the NFC Championship Game. They're currently the No. 5 seed in the NFC, which means they'd play in Dallas if the playoffs started today. Their schedule is tough down the stretch, starting with the Patriots (they go to Seattle next week and finish at home against the Bears) where it's nearly impossible for the opposing team to win. The Vikings have lost four straight to the Pats, and haven't won in New England since the 2000 season back when Daunte Culpepper, Robert Smith and Randy Moss were leading Minnesota's offense and Drew Bledsoe was still the starter for the Pats. We'd love to see a Vikings upset here but it ain't happening.
Patriots 31, Vikings 20, Mike Florio, Smith Pro Football Talk
Vikings simply don’t match up well with a Patriots team that matches up well with pretty much everyone. This could get ugly.
Patriots 24, Vikings 21, Michael David, Smith Pro Football Talk
One of the best games of the day feels like it could go either way, but I like the Patriots to pull it out late.
1 of 3 experts picked the Vikings, ESPN.com
Tom Brady has 17 touchdown passes with four interceptions when opponents deploy no more than the standard four pass-rushers. He has two touchdowns and three picks on the 15.5 percent of pass plays when opponents have rushed five or more. The disparity is intriguing for this matchup because Minnesota's pass-rush can be so formidable.
"Chicago beat Minnesota because [Mitch] Trubisky wouldn't stand there [in the pocket]," one insider said. "What is Tom noted for? He is the Statue of Liberty. So, Minnesota can rush the passer and Tom is standing there. People are talking about how things are not the same in New England, especially with the quarterback. Well, we are going to find out, OK?"
The insider picking Minnesota bought into the thinking that Brady and New England haven't been quite as sharp as they've been in the past.
"I don't think they are as explosive," this insider said. "Brady does not seem to be seeing it as quickly and delivering it as accurately. His mind is still obviously as sharp, but physically, it just may be off a little bit, a half a beat. That is where he was so much better than everybody. Can he get that back at his age  late in the season?"
As usual, the Patriots are breaking in new combinations of backs and receivers. From 2017 to the same point in 2018, they basically traded 10 starts of Brandin Cooks for 11 starts of Josh Gordon (eight) and Cordarrelle Patterson (three). They traded five starts of Dion Lewis for five starts of Sony Michel. Up front, they traded 11 starts of Nate Solder for 11 starts of Trent Brown.
Despite some of the concerns, the Patriots have won seven of their past eight, with victories over the Colts and Bears, who are a combined 10-1 since losing to New England.
"I agree that Brady is not looking great, but you are playing in New England and they've got [Rob Gronkowski] back," another insider said. "It is hard to go against them at home."
Vikings Pregame Win Percentage: 32.8 %, FOX Sports.com
WhatIfSports.com's NFL simulation engine generates predictions and box scores for every NFL game for FOX Sports for the coming week. The highly sophisticated algorithms simulate every play of every game to produce each team's likelihood to win. Each matchup is simulated 501 times.
Vikings Pregame Win Percentage: 33 %, FiveThirtyEight
FiveThirtyEight’s 2018 NFL forecast uses an Elo-based model to calculate each team’s chances of winning each game of the season.