Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is 124-20 at Gillette Stadium in his career, having already beaten the Texans and Chiefs this season, and 32-4 at home in December. The Vikings will give Brady and company a tough test in New England, but the Patriots will ultimately prevail.
THREE BIG STORY LINES
Tough test in Foxborough
The Vikings will begin their second two-game road swing of the season in which they play games on opposite coasts. They’ll begin the stretch by trying to win in a place where the Patriots haven’t lost since Oct. 1, 2017.
Cousins vs. Brady
In his only game at Gillette Stadium, Kirk Cousins threw for just 217 yards in a 27-10 loss with the Redskins in 2015 — which turned out to be the only year Cousins went to the playoffs in Washington. Brady has thrown seven interceptions this season and ranks 21st in the league with a 65.2 completion percentage.
Patterson as dangerous as ever
Cordarrelle Patterson — the player the Vikings drafted 29th overall after sending four picks to New England in 2013 — landed with the Patriots this season, and is excelling in some ways that should seem familiar to Vikings fans. He’s averaging 30.9 yards per kick return, and has 276 yards from scrimmage, as the Patriots have expanded his role at running back.
TWO KEY MATCHUPS
Vikings WR Stefon Diggs vs. Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore
New England has used Gilmore to shadow receivers eight times this season, and with Diggs expected to play with a left knee injury, he could see plenty of Gilmore on Sunday. The 2016 Pro Bowler has two interceptions this season, and leads the NFL with 15 pass breakups.
Vikings LBs vs. Patriots RB James White
White, the former Wisconsin RB who had his breakout game as a receiver in Super Bowl LI, has become a multifaceted weapon, already catching a career-high 67 passes while running for 303 yards. Given the Vikings’ struggles at times this season with pass-catching backs, the Patriots figure to try White on angle routes and wheel routes to test the linebackers.
ONE STAT THAT MATTERS
2-8 The Vikings’ road record against playoff teams under coach Mike Zimmer. Minnesota also lost road games earlier this year to the Los Angeles Rams and Chicago Bears, who currently lead their respective divisions.
THE VIKINGS WILL WIN IF…
They can establish a running game that helps them hold the ball for roughly 35 minutes (like they did last week), play a turnover-free game and pressure Brady without having to blitz him, especially if cornerback Xavier Rhodes is unable to play or is limited in coverage after a hamstring injury last week.
THE PATRIOTS WILL WIN IF…
They can extend enough drives against the Vikings to force Cousins into a bad decision or two, creating the turnovers that tend to kill opponents against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium, and keep Brady out of trouble by mixing their running game with quick passes to White and Rob Gronkowski.
Prediction: Patriots win, 27-23
Win Probability: 40 percent