The last time the Vikings played on NBC with the Sunday night crew was on Thanksgiving night when they beat the New England Patriots 33-26. This season, primetime has been a mixed bag with the Vikings losing to the Philadelphia Eagles 34-28 but beating the San Francisco 49ers 22-17. They covered the spread in both games.
1. How has Sean Payton helped Russell Wilson?
Last year, it seemed like Nathaniel Hackett wanted Russell Wilson to be a pocket passer, which isn’t his strength. This year, Sean Payton has given Wilson more freedom to move around and make plays with his legs, and Denver even has designed runs in the playbook. Payton seems to call roll-out passes more often than Hackett did as well. Payton has tailored the offense to give Wilson more high-percentage throws at and near the line of scrimmage, and the Broncos have become a very good screen team, which helps Wilson’s numbers. Overall, Wilson has been more efficient this year, probably in large part thanks to Payton. The veteran QB does seem to be a little timid to take deep shots at times, but protecting the ball isn’t a bad thing.
2. The Broncos cut a couple defenders earlier this season. How have they been replaced?
Randy Gregory was going to be cut but Denver was able to find a last-second trade partner with the 49ers instead. He’s been replaced by Baron Browning, who started the season on the reserve/PUP list. Browning is by far the team’s best pass rusher and while he hasn’t been racking up sacks, he is generating pressure. The Broncos also cut slot cornerback Essang Bassey and replaced him with second-year defensive back Ja’Quan McMillian, who has been superb. During the team’s three-game winning streak, McMillian has allowed a 25.2 passer rating to opposing QBs.
3. Is Patrick Surtain II still the real deal?
Absolutely. He’s not tested often so he doesn’t get a lot of opportunities for interceptions, but he is without question one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL today.
4. What do we make of the Broncos receiving corps?
Courtland Sutton is Wilson’s favorite target and he has been money in the red zone this season. Only Tyreek Hill (eight) has more touchdown catches than Sutton (seven) this year. Jerry Jeudy is a talented route runner, but he has never quite lived up to his first-round hype with the Broncos. Jeudy has the potential to make big plays, but Sutton has been far more consistent. Marvin Mims is electrifying with the ball in his hands, but in a run-heavy offense, there are only so many targets to go around. Right now, Mims is making a much bigger impact on special teams as a returner.
5. Can the Broncos stop Danielle Hunter and the Vikings blitz-happy defense?
That’s a great question. Wilson has had mixed results against the blitz this season and right tackle Mike McGlinchey has proven to be a huge liability in pass protection. McGlinchey has been the team’s biggest weak link on the offensive line and if Minnesota gets Hunter lined up on his side, it would likely be a huge mismatch in the Vikings’ favor. Denver will hope to build a lead and pound the rock, but if the Broncos need to throw, Minnesota’s pass rusher could cause big problems.
6. Preview and score prediction
The Real Forno Show