The Broncos and Vikings kick off their preseasons on Saturday, where both teams will debut their new quarterback for the season.
Kirk Cousins was the biggest beneficiary of the offseason carousel, and will appear in purple for the first time. One arrival in Minnesota signaled another’s end, and Case Keenum left for Denver to become their new starter.
The Vikings are just a one-point favorite for their trip to Denver, and they’re a narrow favorite on the moneyline. The point total is set at 35.5, with the over slightly favored.
The hype is on the quarterbacks, but I’m very interested in the running backs for both teams. Dalvin Cook looked promising last season after the Vikings selected him 41st overall in last year’s draft, but his season was cut short but a knee injury. Cook is back and thriving in camp, though it’s unknown what type of workload he’ll receive on Saturday. With Jerrick McKinnon signing a deal in San Francisco, it’s down to just Cook and Latavius Murray to handle the rushing duties.
Denver has a stable of talented backs, but it’s still unknown who, if anyone, will emerge as the starter. The coaches favorite could be Devontae Booker, who opened training camp atop the depth chart. A fourth-round pick in 2016, Booker has great burst but has only seen limited action in his career. His spot could be usurped by rookie Royce Freeman, who was selected in the third round over the offseason. The pair are also competing with speedster DeAngelo Henderson for touches.
With two quarterbacks in new systems, it’s possible we see both in action for a full quarter. It’s hopeful at this point in the preseason, but extra time for starters is the best way to target point totals in preseason. There’s another reunion on the QB depth chart, as Trevor Siemian could get significant time tonight, but this time he’ll be backing up Cousins against the team for whom he started 24 games over the last two seasons.
I actually think the Broncos could be a nice little team this year, but the Vikings are legitimate NFC title contenders. I expect the Minnesota defense to mash their former quarterback, and think their backups could do some damage too. Scoring 35 points seems daunting for these squads, especially if we won’t see a ton of the starters. But the Vikings have a very complete roster, and they are the team I’m backing tonight.
Prediction: 16-10 Vikings