The 6-4 Minnesota Vikings:
The 6-4 Minnesota Vikings had to recover a late fourth quarter onside kick as well as make a last minute first down to ensure a 24-17 victory over the Green Bay Packers in their Week 12 Sunday Night football NFC North showdown.
The Vikings have won five of their last seven games and quarterback Kirk Cousins has a 13th ranked offense that moves the ball 368.5 total yards a game.
Minnesota is 2-2-1 on the road and 1-1 against non-conference opponents, so they’ll have to rise above their norm to beat the Patriots away from home.
The 8-3 New England Patriots:
The 8-3 New England Patriots may be in first place in their division, but given that they got crushed by Tennessee Titans, 10-34, in Week 10 and stayed tied with the dying New York Jets until almost the fourth quarter in their Week 12 victory, it’s fair to say they look tough but beatable these days.
Patriots quarterback and arguably the GOAT Tom Brady may be 41-years-old, but he’s almost throwing like a top-ten quarterback, ranked 11th overall after going 262-for-402 for 3,031 yards and 19 touchdowns with 7 interceptions.
New England is undefeated at home (5-0) and they are 2-1 against opponents outside of their conference, and given that this is the time of the year that the Patriots traditionally start playing like a playoff team, they’ll be tough to beat in Foxborough.
What’s at stake:
These two teams have met 12 times, with New England winning 8 games and Minnesota winning 4 games. The Patriots have won the previous four meetings in a row, the most recent victory taking place in September of 2014.
If the Vikings win this matchup, their record will be 7-4 but they’ll most likely stay two games behind the Chicago Bears in the NFC North who play the easily beatable New York Giants in Week 13.
But if the Patriots come out on top, they’ll be 9-3 and prove that though at times they may bend, they are difficult to break as they stay well atop the AFC East.
Questions to answer…
Who’s favored to win this Week 13 Vikings-Patriots matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
We’re going to compare the Vikings and the Patriots and attempt to answer those questions and more.
The 2018 Vikings offense ranked high
The Vikings have a 7th ranked passing attack, and quarterback Kirk Cousins is ranked fifth in overall passing yards with 3,289 while his main target, Second-team All-Pro wide receiver Adam Thielen is ranked second in receiving yards with 1,138.
Cousins has thrown for 22 touchdowns with only 7 interceptions for a passer rating of 101.9.
Receiver Stefon Diggs has 6 touchdowns and tight end Kyle Rudolph has 2, while Thielen has 8 touchdowns already.
Vikings rushing attack their weak spot
The Vikings running attack is ranked 30th after only averaging 85.3 yards on the ground per game.
Against the Packers, running back Dalvin Cook carried the ball 10 times for 29 yards, just 2.9 yards per carry, his yearly average being 3.5.
Cook also caught 3 balls for 47 yards and a touchdown.
Running back Latavius Murray carried the ball 11 times for 33 yards per carry against Green Bay for an average of 3.0 yards per carry, well under his season average of 4.3 yards per carry.
Minnesota offensive Injuries
Currently there are no offensive players listed as injured for Week 13.
The 2018 Patriots offense beginning to gel
The Patriots offense, ranked 8th overall, scores an average of 27.9 points and moves the ball a total of 388.2 yards per game.
Brady’s passing game is ranked 11th and continuing to gel between his slot receiver Julian Edelman, his deep threat Josh Gordon, his everyman Chris Hogan and his superman tight end Rob Gronkowski, who’s finally looking fairly healthy after dealing with ankle and back injuries.
Together they move the ball an average of 270.0 yards per game, 11th most in the league.
New England’s run game better with Michel
The Patriots’ running attack is 12th best in the league, and that’s despite productive rookie running back Sony Michel missing games in Weeks 8 and 9 due to a knee injury.
Michel was back against the Jets in full form, running the ball 21 times for 133 yards and a touchdown, averaging 6.3 yards per carry.
Veteran running back James White was also productive against the Jets, running the ball 9 times for 73 yards, averaging 8.1 yards a touch.
New England offensive Injuries
Center James Ferentz (coach’s decision) and tight end Dwayne Allen (knee) were all inactive in Week 12, their status for Week 13 still unknown.
Vikings Defense ranks 3rd in the league
Despite only allowing opponents to move the ball a third ranked 314.7 total yards per game, they allow 22.6 points to be scored per game, 11th least in the league.
The Vikings are tied for 13th most interceptions with 10, and their sack total of 36 is tied for 3rd most in the league.
Minnesota’s defense is ranked T-24th in forced fumbles with 7.
Vikings Defensive Players to watch:
Middle linebacker Eric Kendricks is ranked 20th overall in combined tackles with 79 of them, plus he’s forced a fumble and recovered one.
Defensive end Danielle Hunter has 11.5 sacks all to himself, 2nd most in the league, 52 combine tackles (16 for loss), 15 quarterback hits and a 32-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.
Defensive back Anthony Harris has 3 interceptions and 5 passes defended.
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes (leg) is listed as questionable for Week 13.
Patriots Defense is 22nd overall
New England’s defense allows opponents to score 22.6 points and gain 377.5 total yards per game, ranked 25th against the pass and 15th against the run.
The Patriots are T-4th most interceptions with 12 but are 30th in the league in sacks with just 17 of them.
Patriots Defensive Players to watch:
Middle linebacker Kyle Van Noy is T-34th overall for most combined tackles with 71, plus he’s had an interception, 3 passes defended, a forced fumble and a recovered one.
Defensive backs J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones and Stephon Gilmore each have two interceptions.
Cornerback Duke Dawson (coach’s decision) and safety Nate Ebner (knee) along with defensive ends Derek Rivers (coach’s decision) and Keionta Davis (coach’s decision) were all inactive in Week 12, their Week 13 status currently unknown.
Special Teams Stats Comparison
Minnesota’s punter, Matt Wile, in his third year and picked up in September on waivers from the Pittsburgh Steelers, has punted 48 times for a net average of 40.5 yards per punt, ranked 13th in the NFL.
New England’s punter, Ryan Allen, has been a Patriot all six of his NFL years and has punted 42 times for a net average of 39.0 yards per punt, ranked 25th in the NFL.
Minnesota’s veteran placekicker, Dan Bailey, a former Dallas Cowboy who is considered one of the most accurate place kickers in the history of the NFL, has gone 15-for-20, his longest was a 52-yarder.
Bailey has missed one extra point attempt (19/20).
New England’s veteran placekicker, Stephen Gostkowski, who has spent all 13 of his NFL seasons as a Patriot, is 21-for-24, his longest was a 52-yarder.
Gostkowski hasn’t missed an extra point attempt (34/34).
Minnesota’s punt returner, cornerback Marcus Sherels, is ranked 24th in the league.
Sherels has returned 17 punts for 156 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 9.2 yards per return, his longest for 24 yards.
New England’s punt returner, wide receiver Julian Edelman, is ranked 48th in the league in return average.
Edelman has returned 9 punts for 53 yards and a touchdown, averaging 5.9 yards per return, his longest was for 18 yards.
Vikings–Patriots prediction and odds
The oddsmakers have the Patriots favored over the Vikings by 5.0 with an over/under of 48.5.
CBSSports.com has two final score predictions:
Pete Prisco goes with the over and has it Patriots 30, Vikings 23
John Breech takes the under and predicts it Patriots 23, Vikings 20