Vikings vs Broncos Game Preview
It isn’t often that there is intrigue attached to an NFL preseason game beyond the annual battle for roster spots and the first chance to check out the new crop of rookies in a game situation. For the veterans, these games are generally nothing more than a chance to get loose and shake off the cobwebs, but when it comes to this game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High between the Minnesota Vikings and Denver Broncos, well you could say that level of intrigue and curiosity surrounding the contest will be a mile high.
Quarterback Case Keenum will start his first game as a Bronco since signing as a free agent with Denver in the offseason, and wouldn’t you know it, the team on the other side of the ball is his old club the Vikings, the one he came off the bench for last season in place of the injured Sam Bradford and led them to within a victory of playing in Super Bowl LII, which it just so happened was being held at U.S. Bank Stadium, the Vikings home field.
In Keenum’s place, Kirk Cousins, Minnesota’s huge free-agent addition, will make his first start under center since leaving the Washington to don purple and gold. But as much as the attention in Minnesota will focus on Cousins, it’s his backup that will make Denver fans stand up and pay attention. That’s because it is former Broncos starter Trevor Siemian, who was traded by Denver to Minnesota during the offseason. And then there’s also Vikings third-stringer Kyle Sloter, signed last season after he was cut by the Broncos.
Vikings vs Broncos NFL Historical Matchup
Ok, so it’s been awhile. The last time the Minnesota Vikings and Dnever Broncos met in the NFL regular season, Peyton Manning was the Broncos quarterback, playing in his farewell season and leading Denver to a surprise upset 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. The last time these two teams met in the preseason, Tim Tebow was a Broncos quarterback. And the last time the Vikings and Broncos met in a preseason game in Denver, John Elway was the Broncos quarterback.
The Vkings and Broncos have clashed seven times in preseason play since 1976, but six of those seven games took place prior to 1987, so how much stock you want to put into those outcomes is entirely up to you. Overall, the Vikings have won five straight from the Broncos in the preseason, including the last two played in Denver. You’ve got to go all the way to 1982, when the Broncos recorded a 27-17 home-field victory, to unearth a Denver preseason win over Minnesota.
Threes Are Wild – There’s a common trend in regular-season games between the Vikings and Broncos, and that is the value of a field goal – three points. Seven times in 14 regular-season meetings between these two teams, the final margin on the scoreboard was exactly three points. In fact, that’s been the margin of victory in the last three Minnesota-Denver games, and in three of the last four meetings. The first time these two teams ever met in Denver, the Vikings won 23-20 and the first game in Minnesota ended 12-9 Vikings.
It’s Different In The Preseason – Close games haven’t exactly been the order of the day when the Vikings and Broncos have met on the field during the exhibition season. Just two of the games have been decided by margins of four points or less, and only three out of seven games finished with the losing team within seven points of the winner on the scoreboard. The average margin of victory in the other four preseason Broncos-Vikings games since 1976 was 16 points.
Total It Up – Regular season or preseason, you can generally count on there being lots of points on the board when the Vikings and Broncos lace them up to face each other. In the last seven Minnesota-Denver preseason games, the total has gone to 44 or higher on five occasions, and in one of the games it didn’t, Minnesota whipped Denver 34-3 in 1983. At least one team has scored 20 points in six of the seven games and on two occasions, both teams went 24 points or better.
You’ll find that you unearth a similar pattern of excess in the regular-season meetings between the Broncos and Vikings. Six of the last seven Denver-Minnesota games have finished with totals of 41 points or better. The average total over the past seven Broncos-Vikings regular-season meetings was 47 points. Over the course of the entire 14-game series between the two teams, the average total works out to 44.3 points per game.
Preseason Powerhouses – The Broncos and Vikings have proven to be among the NFL’s more dominant performers in preseason play during recent seasons. The Vikings posted perfect 4-0 preseason records in three of the past four exhibition seasons, going 14-2 since 2014. That includes a solid 7-1 road mark and a 9-1 slate vs the AFC. The Broncos were 4-0 last season and are 12-4 over the past four preseasons. Denver is 11-3 in its last 14 games vs the NFC, but just 8-6 in its last 14 home preseason games.
Super Bowled Over – For years, the Vikings and Broncos set the standard for Super Bowl futility. On the one hand, the Vikings did manage to play in four of the first 11 Super Bowls. But they also managed to lose four of the first 11 Super Bowls. By Super Bowl XXIV, the Broncos had joined the Vikings by also going 0-4 in their first four Super Bowl appearances. But Denver has won two of its last three Super Bowls to ease the pain. The Vikings have been desperately trying to get back to the big game since 1977.
What About This Year? – Are either the Vikings or the Broncos legitimate Super Bowl hopefuls? There seems to be some hope for both of these teams in that regard. The Vikings are listed by Bovada as the co-fourth choice in their Super Bowl LIII future book along with the Los Angeles Rams at +1100. A year ago, the Vikings got to within a win of playing in the big game for the first time since Super Bowl XI. Is new QB Kirk Cousins the guy who can make the difference to get them that next step further?
At +4000, the Broncos aren’t anywhere near as sexy a pick, but remember when Denver won Super Bowl 50, Manning was a shadow of his Hall of Fame self and the defense did the job. Denver’s defense is still among the NFL’s best and if Keenum can be serviceable under center, there’s no reason to think the Broncos couldn’t be a contender in the uncertainty that is the AFC West Division. And once you’re in the dance, any outcome is feasible. Just ask the Philadelphia Eagles.
Winning Ways – You will find similar discrepancies between these two teams when it comes to the total wins set for the 2018 NFL season by Bovada. They’ve established the Vikings with a win total of 10. Betting the over will net you odds of -130, while playing the under is worth even money. The Broncos come in at a much less enthusiastic seven wins. Play the under on them and the odds given you will be +135. The over is valued at odds of -165.
BetOnline puts the Vikings, who won the NFC North title with an 13-3 record last season, at -260 odds to again make the NFL playoffs in 2018. You’ll get a much higher return on your wager if you opt to play the Broncos, who finished 5-11, their first losing campaign since 2010. Denver is pegged at +275 to make the playoffs, something the Broncos did every season from 2011-15, winning five consecutive AFC West Division titles.