Posted on November 26, 2018, by Travis Pulver
This has been an interesting season for the New England Patriots. At times, they have looked like the team known and loved by fans—immortal and virtually unstoppable. But at other times, they have looked like any other team—beatable on any given Sunday. They still come out on top more often than not, but they aren’t as feared anymore.
Minnesota entered the season with high expectations after getting within a game from playing in the Super Bowl last season. They have dealt with their share of injuries and growing pains this season with a new quarterback and offensive coordinator.
They will probably not win the division this season, but they have a good shot at a wildcard berth still. But they have to win to stay in the hunt and the road ahead—starting with the Patriots – is not going to be easy.
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The Minnesota Vikings could be facing the New England Patriots at just the right time. Yes, they were dominated by the Chicago Bears a couple of weeks ago. But then they rebounded with one of their best games of the season last week against the Packers.
Dalvin Cook is finally healthy, but they still can’t seem to establish a reliable running game. However, in today’s NFL, it is almost as valuable to have a quality receiver coming out of the backfield. A running game would be great. But when you have a guy that can do with screen passes what Cook did in the first quarter against the Packers, you manage.
What is even more telling as it relates to their upcoming game against the Patriots is how well the defense played against the Packers. You could say holding Aaron Rodgers to less than 200 yards and only a single touchdown was a pretty good warmup for taking on Tom Brady.
Normally, at this point in the season, Brady is an unstoppable machine. But he has not looked the part so far. The woeful Jets held the mighty Patriots offense at bay for almost three quarters. The week before, the Titans absolutely dominated the Patriots on both sides of the ball and made Brady look mediocre.
Then again, Brady hasn’t exactly seemed quite like the guy that has been giving defensive coordinators fits for years. He does have seven interceptions already and is on pace for his highest season total since 2013, but he is only on pace for ten. Many quarterbacks would kill for a number like that.
Brady is still one of the best. But he now appears to be more reliant on his skill position guys than ever. If he doesn’t have Sony Michel in the backfield and Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, and Josh Gordon running routes, he has struggled.
With the Vikings pass rush and secondary it is not hard to imagine Brady having some problems no matter which weapons he has to work with. New England’s defense is nothing special—especially their pass defense. If Kirk Cousins has his head on straight when the game starts, he should have no problem picking the New England secondary apart.
New England is favored by six but probably more because of their reputation than their actual game. Don’t be surprised if Minnesota wins this one straight up. If they don’t, they will win against the spread (+6).
As for the over/under (48.5), take the over. Both offenses are capable of scoring. While defense will play a factor in the outcome of the game, these guys will combine for at least 50 points.