EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings are set for a rare matchup on Sunday.
Minnesota will host Buffalo in Week 3, a team that the Vikings only see once every four years. The teams last played in 2014, which was Mike Zimmer's first season as the Vikings head coach.
The Vikings are coming off a weird Week 2 result after Minnesota rallied to force overtime against Green Bay but walked off the field with a 29-29 tie. Minnesota is 1-0-1 on the young season.
The Bills are 0-2 after losses to the Ravens and Chargers to open their season.
The Vikings are 8-5 all-time against Buffalo. The Bills last played in Minnesota in 2010.
Here are three areas to watch in Sunday's contest, plus some noteworthy stats on both teams:
Meet the new guys | By @Eric_L_Smith
The Vikings weren't afraid to shake up their roster after Sunday's game, bringing in three veteran players.
Kicker Dan Bailey and wide receiver Aldrick Robinson are new faces, while defensive tackle Tom Johnson returned to the Vikings, where he spent the 2014-2017 seasons before a stint with the Seahawks.
Zimmer appreciated the effort from Minnesota's front office to constantly find players who could upgrade the Vikings roster.
"I texted them the other night, all those guys, and thank you for trying to get some more players in here," Zimmer said. "Number one, they always do a great job. Rick [Spielman] always says, 'I want to get the players in here that you want to get.' We have a great relationship, a great working relationship.
"I think we got a great front office. It's great to see," Zimmer added. "We felt like we needed to make some moves after that game."
What impact will each player have in Purple?
Bailey will obviously play right away on kickoffs and field goals and extra points.
Zimmer said Friday that Bailey was spot-on in practice this week, making every kick. Zimmer estimated that the number of kicks for Bailey in team periods was "probably 30, 32."
Johnson could see playing time early since he is familiar with Minnesota's defensive scheme.
Robinson is new to the team but should be active Sunday as the Vikings only have five receivers on the 53-man roster. Perhaps he gets on the field for a few snaps in his first opportunity for a Vikings debut.
Josh Allen jumping in for 2nd start | By @LindseyMNSports
The Vikings defense will face an unfamiliar face when the play the Bills Sunday.
Rookie Josh Allen, whom Buffalo drafted No. 7 overall in April, will make his second NFL start and first on the road. Allen was a standout quarterback at Wyoming before making the jump to the pros. In his first start for the Bills against the Chargers last Sunday, he was 18-of-33 passing for 245 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for a passer rating of 63.3.
Allen's numbers weren't flashy at home, and he'll be coming into a tough road environment at U.S. Bank Stadium – but that doesn't mean Minnesota won't be prepared for a talented quarterback.
Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards highlighted Allen's strong arm and ability to move in the pocket.
"He's got a lot of scrambles where he's picked up first downs throughout the course of the preseason and these first two games, so he'll be a challenge for us," Edwards said. "We're excited about the challenge, but again, this is going to be his second start. They've got some things offensively that they gear towards his skill set. He's very impressive in his ability to get free in the pocket. He's got a pretty good feel for it and being able to throw the ball down the field."
Buffalo's aggressive front seven | By @pcraigers
The points allowed by Buffalo hasn't aligned with the talent on the Bills defense, particularly an aggressive front seven that is scheduled to start three first-round picks, a second rounder, a couple of veterans with seven combined Pro Bowls and a 2017 fifth-rounder.
Kyle Williams is the man in the middle and will be playing in his 170th game (165th start), which is a record among Bills defensive tackles. The 2006 fifth-round pick also holds the franchise record for career sacks (44) by a defensive tackle.
Buffalo has built the rest of its starting front four through free agency, bringing in former first-round selections from Washington (Trent Murphy), Carolina (Star Lotulelei) and Indianapolis (Jerry Hughes) over the past several seasons.
Murphy was a second-round selection in 2014. Lotulelei was drafted in 2013, and Hughes was part of the 2010 draft class. As for the linebackers, the Bills have two-time Pro Bowler Lorenzo Alexander, who had 12.5 sacks in 2016, 2018 opening night pick Tremaine Edmunds and 2017 fifth-rounder Matt Milano.
The seven players have combined for 138.5 sacks, and it was said this week that Buffalo kind of deploys a "play-the-run-on-the-way-to-the-quarterback" approach under Head Coach Sean McDermott and Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier.
Zimmer said he saw improvements by Buffalo in the second half of the Bills Week 2 game against the Chargers and has known McDermott for "quite a while."
"We used to sit down and talk defense, things like that," Zimmer said. "I would go to the Combine and he would call me. He called me this year before the season about some of those things. He's a good football coach. I think their defensive front is aggressive. They got some really good players in there. [Tremaine] Edmunds, Star [Lotulelei], Jerry Hughes, [Kyle] Williams, these guys are all good. They come off the ball, and they try to wreck the football game."
The front's aggressiveness should provide another good opportunity for the Vikings offensive line as well as running backs or tight ends to lend a hand with pressures.
— Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen had 3.0 sacks the last time the Vikings played the Bills. Griffen is seventh in franchise history with 62 career sacks but has been ruled out for Sunday's game.
— Buffalo has allowed 78 points through the first two weeks of the season, which is tied for last in the NFL with the Lions. The Vikings have allowed 45 points, which ranks 17th in the league.
— Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins threw for 425 yards against the Packers. That is tied Daunte Culpepper (Oct. 17, 2004, at New Orleans) for the fourth-most in a road game in team history and eighth-most overall.
— Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs has caught at least one touchdown in his past five regular-season games. Only Hall of Famers Randy Moss and Cris Carter have longer streaks for the Vikings.
"We're excited to get back to U.S. Bank Stadium in front of our home fans. Hopefully it's nice and loud in there. We've had a good week of preparation, and we're hoping to go out and play really well."
— Zimmer on the Week 3 tilt with Buffalo.