The final weekend of preseason football games rolls on with the Denver Broncos (1-1, 1-0 home) hosting the Minnesota Vikings (0-2, 0-1 away) in an AFC vs. NFC battle. Denver bounced back last week after taking an opening week loss while the Vikings are still searching for their first preseason victory.
Saturday’s kickoff is at 9 p.m. EST at Empower Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colorado. The current line is a pick ’em, and the over/under total is 35.5 points.
What to Know – Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota dropped their first two preseason games, a 26-20 loss to Las Vegas and a 17-7 defeat to San Francisco. The Vikings open up the season in two weeks with a huge matchup against the Green Bay Packers at home.
Starting quarterback Kirk Cousins, along with a handful of other starters, isn’t expected to suit up in Saturday night’s preseason finale. Cousins missed last week’s contest after testing positive for COVID-19. Backups Sean Mannion, Kellen Mond, and newly acquired Nick Mullens will handle the quarterbacking duties.
Backup running backs will fill the void of Dalvin Cook, who hasn’t carried the ball once in the preseason. Ty Chandler has led the rushing crew with ten carries for 69 yards and a touchdown. No. 2 rusher Alexander Mattison has six attempts for 25 yards.
At wide receiver, you won’t see Justin Jefferson or Adam Thielen Saturday night. The Vikings will use a handful of backups vying for roles on the roster. Ihmir Smith-Marsette has led all Minnesota pass-catchers with seven receptions for 58 yards.
What to Know – Denver Broncos
The Broncos defeated the Dallas Cowboys in their opening contest, 17-7, but was throttled last week, 42-15, at the hands of the Buffalo Bills. Denver opens the regular season with a road tilt against the Seattle Seahawks.
Like Cousins, Denver starting quarterback Russell Wilson is the clear starter and won’t see a minute of action during the preseason. Those snaps have gone to backups Josh Johnson and Brett Rypien. Both quarterbacks have looked decent in split action.
Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon III will take a backseat Saturday night to the current No. 3 Mike Boone and No. 4 JaQuan Hardy. The rushing attack has been rather bleak for the Broncos in the preseason, rushing for only 71 yards through the first two games with zero touchdowns.
Denver has featured numerous wide receivers through the first two games to try and establish playmakers behind their top two targets of Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy. Albert Okwuegbunam is emerging from camp as a possible breakout candidate at the tight end position, catching four passes for 32 yards in last week’s contest.
The Pick is In
The expectation of this one is that a lot of backups are going to play early and often as the two teams identify who will make the final roster cuts before the start of the season. Backups and free agents all over the field tend to lead toward a sloppy, low-scoring contest. This contest should be no different.
The Pick: Vikings/Broncos UNDER 35.5