The Denver Broncos (3-6) head to Minnesota to face the Vikings (7-3) for their Week 11 game, coming off of a big victory over the Cleveland Browns and a bye week to catch up on rest. Brandon Allen should start his second game in a row despite Drew Lock beginning to practice this week.
The spread for the game is the Vikings as a 10.5 point favorite, but I feel optimistic the Broncos will actually keep this a close game and beat the spread. Winning this game is a little bit harder of a prediction because, even with Adam Thielen out, the Vikings have one of the best running backs in the NFL, weapons in the passing game, and an opportunistic defense that will show up.
Denver will have to score more than 20 points for a second consecutive week, and Brandon Allen will have another chance to lead this offense. The Vikings’ defense is stingy and is giving up slightly more points per game (18.6) than the Broncos (18.2). The offense will have to continue to take shots when they are available, run the ball effectively, and play sound technique to avoid a slurry of penalties.
The defense will be challenged by another strong ground game, and hopefully they don’t buckle like they did against the Jaguars. After the Jags’ game in Week 4, the Broncos inserted Mike Purcell and A.J. Johnson into the starting rotation; that move has proven to be the answer to stopping the opponents’ run game. If the Broncos can stop the run and make Kirk Cousins push the ball through the air, the Broncos’ secondary will have chances at picking off some balls.
In order to come out of Minnesota with a victory, this match-up depends heavily on the Broncos’ pass rush and getting turnovers. If Von Miller can show up and completely disrupt the game, the Broncos have a chance to claw closer to a .500 record and stay in the playoff talk in the top-heavy AFC. Miller is still waiting for a monster game where he is the sole difference-maker, and this game, after the bye week, could be when we see Super Bowl 50 MVP-caliber Von Miller take over a game.
The Broncos’ ability to shut down the run, apply pass rush pressure with Malik Reed and Von Miller, and play overall good football lately could force Kirk Cousins into some bad throws and give the offense some short fields and good opportunity to establish a lead. One thing the Broncos’ defense hasn’t been great at this season is creating turnovers and giving the offense a great starting field position. They have been amazing at preventing points on the board and holding opposing teams to field goals instead of touchdowns, but this week, turnovers are a requirement.
Despite losing three games to late-game heroics this season, Derek Wolfe joked that Denver is the best 3-6 football team in the league without a doubt. The record isn’t indicative of the level of talent and ability on this roster, and the team knows they can steal a victory from anyone. Winning out would put the Broncos at 10-6 and a good opportunity at the playoffs. That’s not a likely scenario, but it has to start this week if it’s going to start at all.