Patriots To Keep Pressure On In Playoff Race

Brady is eyeing the Pats' ninth win of the season

The New England Patriots and the Minnesota Vikings face off in one of the marquee matches in week 13 of the NFL season.

Although the Patriots have been far from their best on both sides of the ball, they remain a contender for the Super Bowl boasting an 8-3 record heading into the contest.

New England returned from their bye week last time out with a point to prove after a hammering at the hands of the Tennessee Titans. Bill Belichick’s men were able to take care of business against the New York Jets even though it was not the emphatic performance expected.

Minnesota arrive in New England for the first time in eight years off the back of a fine win over the Green Bay Packers on home soil. Kirk Cousins was on form, throwing three touchdowns to outduel Aaron Rodgers.

The Vikings move up to 6-4-1 in their campaign, two games behind the Chicago Bears in the NFC North. They are in the playoffs as it stands, but their margin for error is small given their position in their division. Mike Zimmer’s men need a strong performance to defeat the Patriots, who are unbeaten at Gillette Stadium this season.

Brady is eyeing the Pats' ninth win of the season

New England Patriots

The Patriots would have been relieved to see Rob Gronkowski get back into the endzone for the first time since week one of the campaign. Gronkowski has seen his position as the league’s best tight end come under threat due to his injury problems this term. However, he appears to be edging back to form and his 34-yard score against the Jets proved a point, ending his touchdown drought. The 29-year-old will be a crucial figure in the Patriots’ run to the end of the season. If Gronkowski is operating at the peak of his powers then Belichick’s men could well snatch away the one seed in the AFC away from the Kansas City Chiefs.

Tom Brady also ended his problems throwing touchdowns in the win over the Jets. He had only thrown one strike in his previous three matches, but his connection with Julian Edelman and Gronkowski suggests that he is slowly working back to form. Brady has been dealing with a knee injury, which could be worth monitoring given his importance to New England’s success. As a result of their issues in the passing game, the Patriots have turned to the ground for answers.

Sony Michel was drafted with the 31st pick in the 2018 Draft. The 23-year-old was a star at Georgia in the college game, and although he has flashed at times, injuries stymied his momentum. However, he was decisive in his side’s last triumph, reeling off 133 yards and a touchdown. Michel will be a key cog in easing the pressure on Brady down the stretch.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings needed a response to their defeat against the Bears in week 11. Zimmer’s men could ill afford another defeat in the NFC North, and they duly delivered a fine performance to see off the Packers. Minnesota effectively ended Green Bay’s hopes of reaching the post-season, leaving them in a straight shootout with Chicago for the division crown. Cousins endured a disappointing display against the Bears, but was excellent on home soil, connecting with Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs and Dalvin Cook in the endzone.

The club have been inconsistent on both sides of the ball throughout the season. However, their talent is beginning to find a rhythm and are more than capable of rounding into top-five units on both offense and defense. Thielen and Diggs are two of the best wideouts in the NFL, while Cook has proven that he can be a dynamic threat out of the backfield. The pressure is on Cousins to make the offense tick and provide the defense with a lead to protect.

Since the return of Everson Griffen, the Vikings defense has come to life. They’re one of the leading units in the NFL in yards allowed, although their points’ differential is not as favourable. Zimmer’s men were the best defense in the league last season and they’re beginning to trend towards that standard. They have talent at all three levels of the defense, although injuries at the cornerback position could be a concern heading down the stretch. It will put further pressure on the pass-rush led by Griffen and Danielle Hunter to get to opposing quarterbacks, starting with Brady on Sunday.

Head to Head

Games Played: 12 New England Patriots: 8 Minnesota Vikings: 4

The Patriots and the Vikings have only met on 12 occasions. New England holds the edge, reeling off four-straight wins in the era of Brady, although Minnesota did defeat Belichick’s side in his first year at the club, recording a 21-13 win on the road.

Brady has dismantled the Vikings in his four meetings, throwing for 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns to just one interception. Their last encounter came in 2014 when the Patriots eased to a 30-7 win, although the teams have changed drastically in the time since.

Betting Options

Neither team is operating at the peak of their powers at the moment. Brady and company are struggling to click into top gear, while the Patriots’ defense has been up and down. Minnesota’s offense has underperformed despite their talent, while their defense has been mediocre on the road.

Given that New England are unbeaten at home this season and the Vikings have been patchy to say the least, especially against quality opponents, take Belichick’s men to get the win at odds of -225   with BetOnline.

The Patriots have not been at their best in putting teams to the sword, although they did defeat the Packers by 14 points on home soil last time out at Gillette, take them at -8 on the spread at odds of +160   with 888Sport. The over/under line has been set at 49 points for the contest – take the over at -107   with BetOnline.

Tips Summary

New England Patriots To Beat Minnesota Vikings
Sunday 2nd December 2018 16:25 ET (21:25 GMT)
Odds: -225

New England Patriots -8 Spread
Sunday 2nd December 2018 16:25 ET (21:25 GMT)
Odds: +160

Over Total 49 Points To Be Scored
Sunday 2nd December 2018 16:25 ET (21:25 GMT)
Odds: -107