The Vikings have won five of six games, and have one more goal to accomplish before some much-needed time off.
The Vikings (7-3) will host the Broncos (3-6) at noon (CT) Sunday from U.S. Bank Stadium. Minnesota, which in position to contend for a playoff spot, has a bye in Week 12.
Denver is coming off a Week 10 bye and has won three of its past five games.
Here are five Vikings-Broncos storylines to watch on Sunday.
1. Staying perfect at home
Only two teams in the NFL can currently boast of a perfect home record more than halfway through the 2019. One team is New England, a perennial powerhouse in the AFC. And the other is the Vikings, who have earned wins over Atlanta, Oakland, Philadelphia and Washington so far this season. Minnesota gets another chance to add to its sparkling home record Sunday against the Broncos. The Vikings are 22-7 [.759 win percentage] at U.S. Bank Stadium [including the playoffs] since opening the venue in 2016. The Vikings have three home games left after this one, all against NFC North opponents, and all in December.
Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Broncos.
2. An unknown quarterback
The Vikings defense usually plays well at home against young quarterbacks, but there is a sense of unfamiliarity with Denver quarterback Brandon Allen, who began the season as the third-stringer. But with Joe Flacco on Injured Reserve and 2019 second-round pick Drew Lock nursing a thumb injury, the Broncos turned to Allen in Week 9 against Cleveland. Allen, a sixth-round pick by Jacksonville in 2016, simply completed 12 of 20 passes (60 percent) for 193 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He had a passer rating of 125.6 as he earned the win in starting his first-ever game. You can bet Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and his defense will look to rattle the 27-year-old quarterback Sunday at home.
3. A pair of 1K milestones
It’s almost a certainty that a pair of Vikings will each reach significant milestones Sunday, with each having to do with 1,000. Vikings kicker Dan Bailey is one point away from 1,000 for his career, as the veteran is sitting on 999 career points. Bailey has made 15 of 17 field goals in 2019, along with 27 of 29 extra points. Vikings running back Dalvin Cook — the current NFC Offensive Player of the Week — is nine rushing yards away from 1,000 on the season. Cook’s 991 rushing yards lead the NFL, and is also a career-high for the former Florida State standout, who had 969 rushing yards in 15 games in 2017 and 2018. The running back also paces the NFL with 1,415 all-purpose yards, while his 10 total touchdowns are tied for second.
View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster for the 2019 season.
4. Denver’s defense
Don’t be fooled by the Broncos 3-6 record, as Denver still has a stout veteran defense, especially against the pass. The Broncos are sixth overall in points allowed (18.9) and fourth in both total yards allowed (309.7) and passing yards allowed (202.1) per game. Opposing quarterbacks also produce an 83.3 passer rating against the Broncos, which is the seventh-lowest in the league. The Broncos didn’t record a single sack in four of five games during a 1-4 start, but have 14 sacks in their past four games, including an outburst of seven sacks against Tennessee in Week 6. Derek Wolfe has a team-high 5.0 sacks for the Broncos, while Von Miller and DeMarcus Walker have 4.0 apiece. Safety Justin Simmons leads the team with a pair of interceptions.
5. Keeping an eye on the playoff race
The NFC playoff field appears as if it is going to be full of heavyweights, as there are currently five teams in the conference with seven-plus wins. Here is a look at the current NFC playoff picture:
1. San Francisco (8-1) – NFC West leader
2. Green Bay (8-2) – NFC North leader
3. New Orleans (7-2) – NFC South leader
4. Dallas (5-4) – NFC East leader
5. Seattle (8-2) – Wild-Card No. 1
6. Minnesota (7-3) – Wild-Card No. 2
The Vikings are still in the race for a third division title in five seasons, but have some work to do to catch the Packers. Minnesota’s win over Dallas in Week 10 did give the Vikings a little bit of cushion in the Wild Card race, as three teams — the Rams, Eagles and Panthers — all sit at 5-4.