BOSTON (CBS) — As the Patriots and Vikings gear up for Sunday’s matchup at Gillette Stadium, we’ve hit the final month of 2018.
That is bad news for the Vikings. Since 2002, the Patriots are the best team in the NFL after Thanksgiving, touting a 106-29 record in that span. Pittsburgh owns the next-best record at a respectable 85-38, but that is nothing compared to New England’s dominance in the month of December.
But what happened in the past won’t carry the Patriots on Sunday, and they know this. They pride themselves as a team that gets better and better as the season goes, and they have a formidable foe to match up against on Sunday.
Here’s how the WBZ-TV/CBS Boston sports crew sees Sunday’s tilt playing out:
Steve Burton, WBZ-TV
The Patriots may be 5-0 at home, but their true identity may come out Sunday against the Vikings. This game should reveal a lot.
Minnesota is for real. Kirk Cousins, though inconsistent at times, can be extremely dangerous with his arm and his legs. Cousins, in fact, leads the league with 318 completions. But the Vikings offense ranks 14th overall in the NFL.
When it comes to the Minnesota defense, the Patriots have to be aware of Danielle Hunter, who has 11.5 sacks on the season. The Vikings have 3 sacks overall, good for third in the league.
But the Patriots are getting healthy and the running game is starting to gel. All the Patriots have to do is keep Tom Brady upright and give him time to spread the wealth. Brady’s weapons are starting to come on strong.
Patriots 24, Vikings 21
Dan Roche, WBZ-TV
The Vikings are better than their 6-4-1 record would indicate with lots of weapons at their disposal. There are a few hiccups though, with injuries to speedy wide receiver Stefon Diggs and cornerback Xavier Rhodes a possible major issue.
The Patriots are as healthy as they’ve been in a while and they’re at home, where they’re 5-0. They’ve done enough to beat Kansas City and Green Bay at Gillette Stadium and I’d expect the same Sunday evening.
Patriots 35, Vikings 24
Levan Reid, WBZ-TV
On paper, this looks like a tough game for the Patriots. But I get the feeling they can handle this one a lot easier than many people think.
Minnesota doesn’t do well against teams with a winning record, and now they have to try to beat the Patriots in New England. Their best defensive player, Harrison Smith, will be matched up against Gronk and the Pats can either win that battle or get the ball going someplace else.
The Vikings have weapons on offense but Kirk Cousins needs to be on his game for it all to work. And he’s off his game in tight situations, especially on the road.
Patriots 38, Vikings 24
Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
The Vikings range anywhere from good to great at pretty much everything. And yet … they have not been able to prove themselves at all against good football teams. They’ve racked up wins against the dregs of the league, and they’ve come up well short whenever they’ve had to take on a team capable of making the postseason.
Meanwhile the Patriots only lose to the bad teams. When it comes to taking on legitimate teams, the Patriots have been at their best.
Now of course we don’t actually know if the Vikings are legitimate, but I expect the Patriots to treat this game as a major test. I like their chances.
Patriots 19, Vikings 15
Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
The New England secondary will have theirs hands full with Adam Thielen, but would catch a big break if Stefon Diggs can’t go. Still, having to deal with only half of the best receiving duo in the NFL will be a challenge. Thielen has nine 100-plus yard receiving games this season, starting the season off with eight straight. The Patriots have allowed seven different receivers to rack up 100 receiving yards this season, including two in the same game (Kansas City’s Tyreke Hill and Kareem Hunt in Week 6). They are 3-3 in those games.
While the Kirk Cousins-Thielen connection may burn them a handful of times, the Patriots are the better team. The Vikings have struggled whenever they’ve gone up against a good opponent, and now they have to try to beat the Patriots in Foxboro. It should be a fairly entertaining showdown, but the Patriots will keep rolling at home.
Patriots 28, Vikings 17
WBZ-TV has you covered for Sunday’s Patriots-Vikings clash, with Patriots GameDay at 11:30am and full postgame coverage on Patriots 5th Quarter on TV38!