(WCCO) — The Minnesota Vikings have hit their stride. Their four-game winning streak has kept them one game behind the also streaking Green Bay Packers, who lead the NFC North. The Packers won the teams’ first matchup; the second comes in Week 16. But there’s a lot of football to be played between now and then.
This week the Vikings head to Kansas City to meet the Chiefs. It’s a matchup that stood out on the schedule early in the season but has since lost its luster. The Chiefs, when healthy, feature one of the NFL’s most dynamic offenses, with Patrick Mahomes leading a unit loaded with weapons. But receiver Tyreek Hill missed some time early in the season due to injury, as did receiver Sammy Watkins more recently.
The Chiefs persevered early, winning their first four games, before losses to the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans. But Patrick Mahomes’ dislocated kneecap, which has sidelined him since Week 7, may prove more difficult to overcome. Last season’s NFL MVP was averaging 350 yards and 2.3 touchdowns per game before the injury. Backup Matt Moore, who threw for 267 yards and two TDs last week against the Packers, is unlikely to duplicate that production in his time starting.
The Vikings are unlikely to see Mahomes in Week 9. As WCCO sports anchor Mike Max speculates, “I assume right now, today, that they will be without Patrick Mahomes. Now, they may prepare a little bit for him, but I think most people in the Vikings locker room assume that he won’t play.”
Mahomes would certainly test a stingy Vikings defense that currently allows just 313.9 yards and 16.5 points per game, fifth and third in the NFL respectively. According to Max, “their defense has been a constant. They don’t get beat, and Mike Zimmer, as defensive coordinator in addition to being head coach, seldomly gets beat by an inexperienced quarterback. And that is what he will be up against this week.”
The Chiefs without Mahomes make for a matchup somewhat similar to the Vikings’ last four, all wins. The New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins all feature a few offensive play-makers who struggle to stay ahead of their team’s inconsistent defense. The Vikings offense has feasted of late. Only the Eagles managed to contain Dalvin Cook, and only the Redskins (kind of) slowed the reemerging Kirk Cousins and limited the scoring.
“The Minnesota Vikings are a very confident team right now,” says Max. “I give Minnesota just about all of the advantages in this one.”
The Vikings play the Chiefs Sunday @ 12 p.m. CT.