The last time the Vikings faced off against the Broncos, they came down from a 20-0 deficit and beat the Broncos 27-23 with a goal-line stand. The last time the two teams played in Denver, it was the Stefon Diggs breakout party, but Peyton Manning outdueled Teddy Bridgewater for a 23-20 victory.
Both of these teams are riding winning streaks with the Vikings having won five-straight and the Broncos winning three-straight. On Sunday night, these Vikings players will be pivotal to leaving Mile High with a victory.
Managing editor Tyler Forness: S Camryn Bynum
The Vikings’ defense is one of the more impressive units in the league, especially over their five-game winning streak. The 13th ranked unit is where it’s at mainly due to their safety room and it starts with Bynum who is Pro Football Focus’ fifth-ranked safety with Josh Metellus (19th) and Harrison Smith (22nd). The Vikings deploy Bynum all over the field and with Russell Wilson’s scramble ability, Bynum’s ability to play disciplined football. Don’t be surprised if Bynum gets an interception or two on the game.
Columnist Judd Zulgad: RB Ty Chandler
The Vikings’ run game is 29th in the NFL and starting running back Alexander Mattison could miss this one after suffering a concussion last Sunday against the Saints. That should give Chandler, a 2022 fifth-round pick, an opportunity to get the ball. Chandler had a career-high 15 carries for 45 yards against the Saints, and while that averages out to a modest 3.0 yards per touch, he has an ability to put his foot in the ground and take off. That’s something that Mattison seems to lack.
Chandler had a potential 29-yard touchdown run negated by a holding penalty on right tackle Brian O’Neill against the Saints, but it was an impressive burst that the Vikings haven’t seen much of this season. It doesn’t hurt that the Broncos are giving up an NFL-worst 158.3 yards per game.
Columnist Saivion Mixson: ILB Ivan Pace Jr.
Jordan Hicks was put on injured reserve after developing compartment syndrome during the game against the New Orleans Saints. The Vikings re-united with Anthony Barr to help mitigate some of the loss of production, but it will take time for him to learn the system. Especially enough to call it on the fly in the middle of an NFL game.
That leaves “green-dot” duties to the undrafted rookie out of Cincinnati, Ivan Pace, Jr. Pace has shown off his versatility, being an asset rushing the passer, filling gaps in the run game and even in coverage. The plan for the majority of the season will probably be to give that green-dot to Barr, but until then, Pace will be the voice of this defense, just like he was in pre-season.
An undrafted rookie stepping up and becoming the primary play-caller for the defense in a regular season game, in the midst of a playoff race, just adds another chapter in a season chock full of amazing moments.
Columnist Chris Spooner: QB Josh Dobbs
It’s the feel-good story of the season in the NFL. Josh Dobbs gets benched in Arizona, is (reportedly) lied to about his future with the team, and then lands in Minnesota and is asked to immediately step into action, not even knowing all of his teammates by name.
What Dobbs has been able to do his first couple weeks with the team is nothing short of extraordinary. But the NFL is the ultimate “What have you done for me lately?” business. Not much of what Dobbs has done so far is going to matter if the Vikings miss the playoffs. It’s a great story for now, but how much longer will it go on?
Those questions will begin to be answered this week against the Broncos. Denver is the best defense Dobbs will have seen with Minnesota up to this point. They play an aggressive defense and they have one of the better cover corners in the league with Patrick Surtain II. Will Dobbs be able to push the ball downfield against the Denver defense? Will he be able to escape the pocket and make plays with his legs? Can he continue his magical run? He’s going to have the biggest stage in football this week; we’ll see what he does with it.
The Real Forno Show