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Vikings vs Broncos preview: Denver looks to solidify playoff hopes

The Broncos have won three straight games and have a chance to hit .500 with a win on Sunday night.

Denver Broncos v Buffalo Bills Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

The Denver Broncos have a chance to solidify their NFL playoff hopes.

All they have to do is beat a Minnesota Vikings team that has won five games in a row. At 6-4, the Vikings are one of the hottest teams in the NFL that keep finding ways to win games.

Meanwhile, the Broncos have won three straight, including two massive wins that put them in this position. Can Denver keep it rolling on Sunday night?

DraftKings Sportsbook seems to think so, somewhat. The Broncos are -2-point favorites over Minnesota in Sunday’s game. The total currently sits at 43.5. The under has hit in two straight games, and that seems to be the safe play this weekend.

Offensive Rankings

Minnesota: Tenth in overall offense (362.7 yards per game), 29th in rushing offense (85.7 YPG), third in passing offense (272.4 YPG), 12th in scoring offense (23.3 points per game).

Denver: Twenty-third in overall offense (301.9 yards per game), 12th in rushing offense (117.3 YPG), 28th in passing offense (184.6 YPG), tied for 15th in scoring offense (21.8 points per game).

Defensive Rankings

Minnesota: Thirteenth in total defense (323.2 yards per game), 10th in rushing defense (98.8 YPG), 16th in passing defense (224.4 YPG), 14th in scoring defense (20.9 points per game).

Denver: Thirty-second in total defense (401.8 yards per game), 32nd in rushing defense (158.3 YPG), 23rd in passing defense (243.4 YPG), 32nd in scoring defense (27.6 points per game).

Here are the MHR staff’s keys to Sunday’s game.

Cut down on the unforced errors

The Broncos just went on the road and won a game in one of the toughest environments in the NFL. It’s clear Denver is buying into what Sean Payton and his staff want. The Broncos also have the confidence that they can beat any team in the NFL. Now Denver needs to limit the unforced errors in the way of costly penalties on offense and defensive breakdowns. It’s a great problem to have, especially coming off a win. But the Broncos don’t want to give teams any help because eventually it catches up to you. Denver needs to take advantage of its opportunities and limit the mistakes, as cliche as that sounds. — Ian St. Clair

Stop the run

The Bills pushed the Broncos around for a lot of that Monday night win in Buffalo. James Cook broke several big runs. If it hadn’t been for untimely turnovers there would be a much different feeling in Broncos Country. They can’t allow the Vikings to run the ball the way the Bills did. — Adam Malnati

Don’t let Brian Flores blitz the Broncos into oblivion

Brian Flores is arguably the league’s most aggressive defensive coordinator with respect to his blitz calls. After a rough start to the season, his defense has been dialed in and the Vikings have ripped off five-straight wins. His play calling has been superb and his penchant for timely blitzes have put opposing quarterbacks and offensive lines under a lot of duress. I thought Denver’s OL struggled a bit in protection against the Bills. Sunday Night’s game against the Vikings isn’t going to be any easier. A good way for the Broncos to combat Flores’ aggressiveness is with running back screens and the quick passing game. This is an area where Wilson and the offense have been inconsistent at through nine games, but hopefully it’s something they are dialing up in practice all week in preparation for the game. — Christopher Hart

Jump on the belief train

I’m going to jump on the ridiculous “belief train” that Russell Wilson is driving and say that the way this team can keep winning games it possibly shouldn’t win is to keep believing it can. Confidence that you can always get a score or confidence that you can always stop a score goes a long way in putting true talent to good use. The Broncos are no juggernaut but they are not without talent - so even if Denver might be outmatched, the team does have the goods to pull out some improbable victories. So jump on with me and let’s keep this train rolling. — Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann

Find a way to pound the rock

No matter what this Broncos offense does, they are best when they can run the ball. However, the Vikings are giving up just 3.7 yards per carry on the ground which is the 5th best mark in the NFL. They also don’t give up many big plays in the passing game. Both of these strengths directly oppose what Denver’s offensive identity is. In a game of matchups, it sure looks like the Vikings have the edge here so Sean Payton is going to have to call a hell of a game next week to overcome their defensive strengths. — Tim Lynch

What are your keys to Sunday’s game?