Game Day Prediction: Vikings vs. Saints

Following a 34-26 loss to the 49ers in the 2021 regular season, the Minnesota Vikings find themselves facing off against the same opponents in the preseason, this time in Minneapolis. Though any game, especially preseason games, can go in any direction, there is substantial evidence that the Vikings will be able to retaliate and earn their first victory of the year.

Primarily, this matchup will look quite different from the Vikings’ previous game against the Las Vegas Raiders in that quarterback Kirk Cousins has been activated, having since recovered from COVID. While the backups, in Kellen Mond and Sean Mannion, were able to hold their own against the Raiders defense and keep the game competitive, Kirk Cousins being able to play a drive or two is a complete gamechanger. His talent and experience is far beyond that of the other Vikings quarterbacks.

Additionally, as the two teams have participated in joint practices throughout this week, we have received a glimpse of what is to come on Saturday. The biggest star of practice this week, like weeks before, has been the Vikings superstar wide receiver, Justin Jefferson. He has put many 49ers quarterbacks on the ground thus far due to his elite route running and burst. With any playing time whatsoever, Jefferson will tear the opposing defense apart.

Looking at the other side of the ball, pass rushers Za’darius Smith and Danielle Hunter have consistently been in the backfield, whether they are sacking 49ers quarterback Trey Lance or blowing up the impressive 49ers run game. Even with superstar left tackle Trent Williams guarding Lance, Hunter and Smith have been able to have their way.

That being said, the 49ers, last year’s NFC runners up, have not looked weak at all. Nick Bosa has proven to be quite the challenge for Vikings tackle Christian Darrisaw, and linebacker Fred Warner has flown all around the field, both stopping the run and defending passes.

Ultimately, with the ability to get into the face of a young, inexperienced quarterback in Trey Lance and having many talented wide receivers that have dominated against the 49ers’ depleted cornerback room, the Vikings should be able to win this matchup. However, with the brilliant mind of head coach Kyle Shanahan and the talent throughout the roster, especially on defense, the 49ers will keep this one tight. The Vikings will win in a close one, 25-24.
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