The Buffalo Bills are almost certainly the toughest opponent the Minnesota Vikings have faced since the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2. The biggest question is if MVP candidate Josh Allen can play through a UCL sprain in his throwing arm.
If not, the Vikings would go up against a familiar face in Case Keenum, who would again be throwing to his Minneapolis Miracle connection, Stefon Diggs. The QB conundrum is the highlight of the matchup at the moment, but there are plenty more things that make the Bills a talented and intriguing matchup for the Vikings.
Elite Passing Offense
Allen is a large part of Buffalo’s offensive success, of course. Even if he doesn’t play, though, the Bills’ offense has plenty of talent to compensate. Diggs has a league-leading seven receiving touchdowns to go along with 857 yards. That’s good for third in the NFL and only 10 yards short of Justin Jefferson’s mark.
On the other side of Diggs is Gabriel Davis, a big-play specialist averaging 25.1 yards per catch. Dawson Knox can contribute from the tight end position, and Devin Singletary is a viable threat out of the backfield, chipping in 25.9 receiving yards per game. All told, the Bills have the third-best passing offense in the league, which bodes poorly for Minnesota’s pass defense.
The Vikings have struggled to slow their opponents’ passing attack throughout the season, ranking in the bottom 10 in yards allowed and completion percentage allowed. But they have made some improvements since their bye week, and they will need to take another leap if they hope to avoid a shootout with the Bills.
Elite Passing Defense
After two-time Pro Bowler Tre’Davious White tore his ACL in late November last year, it seemed safe to assume that Buffalo’s pass defense would suffer from his absence. So far this season, though, the Bills are seventh-lowest in pass yards allowed (194.8 per game) and third lowest in pass touchdowns (eight). Buffalo has listed White as day-to-day this week, so they may be adding talent to their already great defense against the Vikings.
Minnesota’s pass offense is one of their strengths. They rank 10th and 11th in passing yards per game and passing touchdowns, respectively. If White plays, his matchup with Jefferson will be worth paying attention to. If he doesn’t, Kevin O’Connell will still have to bring out his best against yet another familiar face in Bills DC Leslie Frazier.
Run Defense Is Showing Cracks
Although they are ranked sixth in rushing yards allowed per game, the run defense has recently been a bit of a weakness for the Bills. The Packers ran for 208 against Buffalo three weeks ago, and the New York Jets had 174 yards on the ground in their win over the Bills last week. Buffalo likes to play nickel defense most of the time, sacrificing a linebacker for a cornerback.
On the other hand, the Vikings play a lot of 11 personnel, with one tight end and a running back. That means Minnesota should have a size advantage in the run game and will see a lot of light boxes. The Vikings’ run game looked impressive coming out of the bye against the Arizona Cardinals. Though it struggled last week against the Washington Commanders, the Commanders have an excellent defensive line. If the Vikings get good looks in the run game, expect a lot of carries for Dalvin Cook.