The Minnesota Vikings ripped off an impressive win in Week 1 while displaying an offense short on mistakes and big on yardage. That Vikings’ offense should be taking a step up in competition when the team visits the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
Minnesota quarterback Sam Bradford completed 27 of his 32 pass attempts for 346 yards and three touchdowns in the 29-19 opening win over the New Orleans Saints on Monday and plans on thriving in his second season as the team’s starter. “This will be a big year for Sam,” tight end Kyle Rudolph told reporters, according to ESPN.com. “I wasn’t surprised by his performance Monday night. There’s a reason he was drafted No. 1 overall and a reason why he had the success that he had in college. He’s got a ton of playmakers on this offense to get the ball to and spread it around. When we can do that, we’re tough to defend.” The Steelers have plenty of playmakers as well but still struggled to put the ball in the end zone in a 21-18 triumph at the Cleveland Browns in Week 1. “We knew we’d come out a little rusty,” wide receiver Antonio Brown told reporters. “We have a lot of room to grow and improve.”
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Steelers - 5.5. O/U: 45.5
ABOUT THE VIKINGS (1-0): One of the things that made Bradford so successful in Week 1 was the presence of rookie running back Dalvin Cook, who rushed for 127 yards on 22 carries in his NFL debut. “You can just tell, there’s certain players that it’s not too big for them,” Minnesota offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur told reporters of Cook. “I think he was out there, he was in the flow of the game, he was comfortable with what he was doing. He had production running the ball and doing all the other things.” Cook got the majority of the carries over veteran Latavius Murray, who fumbled on his first touch and ended up with three yards on two carries.
ABOUT THE STEELERS (1-0): Pittsburgh was able to pull out the win in Week 1 despite the lackluster offense due in large part to rookie defensive end T.J. Watt, who recorded two sacks and an interception in his debut and earned defensive rookie of the week honors. “He played well,” defensive coordinator Keith Butler told reporters of Watt. “He is a smart guy. He understands concepts. He understands what offenses like to do. He made some plays for us. He had a couple of sacks and that interception was a very athletic looking play to me at a great time for us. He had just committed a personal foul and got us behind a little bit and good for him, he got it back.” The Steelers also dodged a bullet with defensive end Stephon Tuitt, who left last week’s game with a biceps injury but could return soon.
1. Vikings CBs Xavier Rhodes (hip) and Terence Newman (knee) were limited participants in Thursday’s practice.
2. Pittsburgh RB Le’Veon Bell was limited to 32 yards on 10 carries in Week 1 after sitting out the preseason.
3. Minnesota LB Anthony Barr (hamstring) sat out practice on Wednesday and Thursday.
PREDICTION: Steelers 28, Vikings 24