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The Vikings hit the road after an impressive Monday night performance to visit the Steelers. Pittsburgh defeated Cleveland in their opener, and they’re a six-point favorite at Heinz Field. The total is set at 45.
Against the Saints, the Vikings debuted their new workhorse running back. Dalvin Cook rushed 22 times for 127 yards, breaking off bigger runs as the game progressed.
The Steelers already have their franchise rusher, but they’re working him back into game shape. Le’Veon Bell appeared in only 43 of 60 snaps for Pittsburgh, his lowest percentage since 2014. Expect Bell to receive a full workload against the Vikings defense, which held the Saints to 60 net rushing yards on Monday.
It’s the home opener for the Steelers, and that’s where Ben Roethlisberger is at his best. He’s a significantly better QB at home than on the road, boasting a 99.5 QB rating at Heinz and an 88.9 rating elsewhere. He’ll need to find other targets besides Antonio Brown, who accounted for over 60 percent of Pittsburgh’s yards against Cleveland.
The Vikings have a pretty good quarterback too, but he’s had some knee problems sneak up on him leading into Sunday. It appeared Sam Bradford emerged from Monday Night Football unscathed, especially after carving the Saints for 346 yards and three scores. But midweek it was revealed Bradford had knee soreness, and that escalated up until Saturday, when it was revealed he would be a game-time decision. All signs point towards him playing, but it’s a big dropoff between him and backup QB Case Keenum.
The game could come down to a single matchup. Antonio Brown will line up across from Pro Bowler Xavier Rhodes, who did a great job keeping Michael Thomas quiet earlier this week. Rhodes is dealing with a hip injury, but is only listed as questionable and should be ready for the marquis matchup.
Prediction: Steelers 24, Vikings 19
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