After a series of weaker opponents, the Vikings continue a trend of being the favorite, as they face the Miami Dolphins without quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. However, even without their starting quarterback, the Dolphins are loaded with offensive talent, and will keep this battle close throughout the game.
With Tagovailoa out, there is a bit of uncertainty in regards to who will make the start on Sunday. While head coach Mike McDaniel has hinted towards rookie Skylar Thompson starting, former Viking Teddy Bridgewater has rapidly advanced through the concussion protocol. Either way, Minnesota will look to take advantage of the weaker offense. McDaniel will try to feed his playmakers as much as possible, and with the Vikings sitting back in coverage often, wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle should have plenty of receptions. Defensively, the Dolphins have outdone themselves defending the run, but are towards the bottom of the league in pass defense, which is a statistic that Kevin O’Connell is surely aware of.
As a result, Justin Jefferson should have one of his biggest games of the season. Xavien Howard will try to follow him wherever he lines up, but Jefferson’s dominance should continue, if not at least opening up the field for fellow wideouts Adam Thielen and KJ Osborn. In a return to his hometown, Dalvin Cook will have an opportunity to continue his impressive performance from last week. Defensively, the Vikings have improved immensely against the run over the last few weeks, but Hill and Waddle will take control of this game if the secondary continues to play conservatively.
In yet another matchup between first-year head coaches, O’Connell attempts to claim his first road win in the United States. The depth of the Vikings receiving core in combination with a weaker Dolphins offense due to Tagovailoa’s injury should give Minnesota the slight edge heading into the bye week. The Vikings will take this one 24-23.