The Minnesota Vikings visit Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio on Sunday to play the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1 of the NFL regular season. Minnesota was 7-9 in 2020. The Vikings will be led by quarterback Kirk Cousins and have one of the best running backs in the NFL in Dalvin Cook, who has rushed for over 1,000 yards in two consecutive seasons. Receivers Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson give Cousins’ excellent weapons to use against opposing secondaries. Minnesota traded with the New York Jets on Monday for tight end Chris Herndon following a knee injury to Irv Smith.
Quarterback Patrick Peterson is the biggest pickup for Minnesota on defense. Peterson has been a Pro Bowl selection eight times. Although the Vikings defense was 27th overall last season several players return from injuries that kept them on the sidelines for most of 2020. Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Danielle Hunter and Michael Pierce will help Minnesota return to top form on defense.
Cincinnati had a disappointing 4-11-1 record in 2020 after losing quarterback Joe Burrow to a knee injury. Burrow played in the final game of the preseason and will start under center for the Bengals on Sunday. The offensive line has been upgraded with the addition of Jackson Carman and Riley Reiff. Running backs Joe Mixon and Samjae Perine give the Bengals a solid running game that is underrated. Wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase will be Burrow’s favorite target.
Cincinnati's defense must improve if the Bengals hope to reach the postseason for the first time since 2015. Cincinnati finished 2020 with the 26th overall defense. However, the additions of Trey Henderickson and Larry Ogunjobi will help the defensive line both against the run and rushing the quarterback. The Bengals play a 4-3 defense and linebackers Logan Wilson, Germaine Pratt and Akeem Davis-Gaither are important to both stopping the run and defending the pass.