The Minnesota Vikings, who had their eight-game winning streak snapped last week, can clinch the NFC North Division title with a win against the visiting Cincinnati Bengls on Sunday. Case Keenum continues to excel at quarterback for Minnesota, going 9-3 as a starter, but he committed three turnovers in the 31-24 setback at Carolina.
Even if they don’t win, the Vikings can lock up the division crown if both Green Bay and Detroit lose on Sunday. And, after Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz suffered a season-ending injury last week, Minnesota is optimistic it can catch the Eagles and earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC. The playoff picture is not as bright for the Bengals, who were virtually eliminated from the race following its 33-7 drubbing at the hands of Chicago last week. Despite Cincinnati’s recent tailspin, where it has lost four of its last six games, Andy Dalton has played well, throwing 12 touchdown passes with just one interception over his past seven contests.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Vikings -10.5. O/U: 42.
ABOUT THE BENGALS (5-8): Cincinnati could get back the services of running back Joe Mixon (concussion), but even with their star running back in the fold the Bengals rank 31st in the league in rushing. Cincinnati already put defensive back Adam Jones on injured reserve and list both Dre Kirkpatrick or Vontaze Burfict as questionable, also dealing with concussions. Coach Marvin Lewis shrugged off questions about his job security during the week saying, “These jobs are not meant to last forever.”
ABOUT THE VIKINGS (10-3): Minnesota could be without tight end Kyle Rudolph, who has a team-best seven touchdowns, but has missed multiple practices with an ankle injury while shutdown defensive back Xavier Rhodes is limited with a hip injury. Keenum is just 17 yards shy of reaching 3,000 for the first time in his career and has thrown 18 touchdowns passes. Adam Thielen continues to be his top target as he is tied for third in the NFL with 1,161 yards receiving and seventh in receptions with 80.
1. The Bengals’ defense yielded 271 passing yards last week to Bears rookie Mitch Trubisky, who had previously surpassed the 200-yard barrier in just one of his previous eight starts.
2. This will be the first game the Vikings have played at home since Nov. 19.
3. Homes teams have won the last five meetings in the series but they haven’t met since the 2013 season.
PREDICTION: Vikings 27, Bengals 10