The NFL season is back and the Minnesota Vikings have an interesting opening game.
Minnesota takes to the road to face Cincinnati, which has quarterback Joe Burrow – the No. 1 overall pick in 2020 – making his return from a torn ACL suffered in Week 11 last year. The Bengals’ offense will test a revamped Vikings defense with wide receivers Tyler Boyd, Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins and versatile running back Joe Mixon.
All that being said, Minnesota enters this game a three-point favorite.
That means the Vikings will win, right? Well … the prognosticators aren’t 100% sold on a Minnesota victory.
Here’s this week’s predictions from around the web:
Barry Wilner of the Associated Press: Bengals 24, Vikings 23.
Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times: Vikings 24, Bengals 20. “We’ll find out soon how Joe Burrow looks on that reconstructed knee. He has some good options but that offensive line is bad. Big game for Vikings back Dalvin Cook, a fantasy-football beast.”
NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal: Vikings 19, Bengals 14. “Sometimes the preseason says plenty. These were two of the worst offenses all August, from the games to the practice reports. Joe Burrow's timing, accuracy and confidence all figure to be impacted by his time off recovering from an ACL tear. While the Bengals' offensive line issues have been somewhat overblown -- I'd take them over the Vikings' line! -- this is a brutal Week 1 matchup against a Minnesota front with four excellent starters, none of whom were around a year ago. Cincinnati's defense could also be sneaky good and match up well, so I feel more confident in this being a low-scoring affair than I do about the Vikings covering three points on the road.”
Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com: Vikings 30, Bengals 20. “The Vikings should be much improved on defense this season, which I think will be the difference in this one. Joe Burrow hasn't looked great this summer, and the Vikings should be much better up front getting after the quarterback with Danielle Hunter back. The Minnesota offense will again feature Dalvin Cook, but I think it's the passing game that wins this one.”
Bill Bender of the Sporting News: Vikings 31, Bengals 21. “Mike Zimmer is a former Bengals defensive coordinator, and Minnesota went 3-1 in its last four of the AFC North. Joe Burrow is back for the Bengals, and No. 1 pick Ja'Marr Chase struggled with drops in the preseason. The Vikings need to be better against the run this season, and they will be better in this spot. Burrow will watch another former LSU teammate, Justin Jefferson, and Dalvin Cook get Minnesota out to a first-half lead it won't give up. Patrick Peterson also makes a difference in his Vikings' debut.”
Vinnie Iyer of the Sporting News: Bengals 27, Vikings 24. “The Vikings are overrated going into the season. The Bengals are underrated. Joe Burrow should be back to lift Cincinnati in the home opener, also helping former LSU teammate Ja'Marr Chase shaky off some preseason issues. Both defenses have some talent, but there also are transitional aspects and lingering weaknesses. The Vikings will try to run often and win with Dalvin Cook, but this will turn into a sneaky shootout with Burrow spreading the field well and out-dueling Kirk Cousins.”
John Breech of CBSSports.com: Bengals 23, Vikings 20.
Will Brinson of CBSSports.com: Vikings 28, Bengals 17. “Kirk Cousins has done a very good job this offseason making the Minnesota Vikings unattractive from a season-long betting perspective, but that won't matter in this game. Joe Burrow is back but is he BACK? We haven't seen him confidently working the pocket the way we expect. Ja'Marr Chase's drops are a concern but I think he'll end up being fine. The bigger problem here is Cincy probably can't slow down the Vikings rushing attack. This is a Dalvin Cook smash spot out of the gate against a bad defense with an improved offensive line. I think Minnesota gets the lead and leans into it aggressively.”
Tom Fornelli of CBSSports.com: Vikings 28, Bengals 21.
Jordan Dajani of CBSSports.com: Vikings 24, Bengals 20.
Jonathan Jones of CBSSports.com: Vikings.
Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith and Mike Florio: MDS –Vikings 23, Bengals 14; Florio – Vikings 30, Bengals 13.
Cam Inman of Bay Area News Group: Bengals 24, Vikings 20.
Gary Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Bengals 26, Vikings 23.
Ryan Gosling of Pro Football Network: Bengals 24, Vikings 21. “Joe Burrow returns from a serious leg injury to take on the Vikings at home. Cincinnati’s biggest issue last year was their offensive line. Luckily, they’re playing the team with the worst pass rush from 2020. The Bengals might not be perfect, but I have faith Burrow will be able to throw all over this defense with no pressure coming his way — outside of a healthy Danielle Hunter, that is.”
Ken Schott of The Daily Gazette: Vikings 20, Bengals 17
Philly Voice’s Jimmy Kempski: Vikings.
Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman: Vikings 28, Bengals 24.
Bleacher Report staff: Vikings 24, Bengals 23.
Josh Schrock of NBC Sports Bay Area: Vikings 21, Bengals 13. “The Bengals had the 29th-ranked rushing defense last season. The Vikings have Dalvin Cook. That's a bad start for the Bengals.”
Joe DiTullio and Cecil J. Walker III of GameHaus: DiTullio – Vikings; Walker – Bengals.
Eight of 11 analysts at ESPN pick the Vikings.
Five of seven writers at USA Today predict a Vikings victory. Jarrett Bell and Mike Freeman both think the Bengals will win 24-21.
Seven of eight analysts at CBSSports.com take the Vikings to win.
All five analysts at SI.com are picking the Vikings.
All four writers at Athlon Sports think the Vikings will win.