The final week of NFL preseason games gets underway this week. In this column, we take a closer look at Friday’s clash between the Minnesota Vikings and Kansas City Chiefs as they put the final touches to their preparations for the 2021 NFL season.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Friday, August 27, 2021, 8:00 PM ET at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City
Chiefs Look to Wrap Up on a High
The Kansas City Chiefs will be looking to cap the NFL preseason with a perfect record in their first home preseason game this month, after winning both their first two exhibition games against the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals on the road. If the NFL odds were any indication, the prognosis is favourable for Andy Reid’s side. Kansas City is firmly favoured in the betting with multiple top sportsbooks for the date with the Minnesota Vikings at Arrowhead Stadium on Friday.
The Chiefs’ preseason started with a narrow 19-16 win over the San Francisco 49ers on the road. In the second game, the Chiefs secured a resounding 17-10 win over the Arizona Cardinals with Patrick Mahomes leading a scoring drive in his first possession. It wasn’t vintage Mahomes though. Miscues and miscommunication with his receiving corps marred his brief stint in the game – most notably, Mecole Hardman seemed to be out of sync with Mahomes and struggled to get on the same page. Hardman eventually did score a big touchdown in the second half, but he caught the pass from backup Chad Henne.
On the bright side, the revamped defense gave coach Reid something to hang his hat on. They terrorised the opposing offense, blitzed effectively, got after the quarterback, forced an interception and recorded four sacks. The Chiefs are still working out the defense schematically – deciding on its identity, so to speak. However, the positives were aplenty and across the board as they held the Cardinals offense to a paltry 19-of-28 for 189 yards, one touchdown, and an interception.
Vikings Winless in Preseason
Either Mike Zimmer’s side is in trouble or the longstanding head coach has changed his tune. Past NFL trends show Zimmer plays to win in the preseason but after two games, the Vikings are 0-2 SU with back-to-back losses at home in their exhibition games against the Denver Broncos and the Indianapolis Colts.
The Broncos thoroughly embarrassed the Vikings in their preseason opener, steamrolling them in a 33-6 defeat that exposed worrying shortcomings on the offensive side of the ball. The second game resulted in a much narrower 12-10 loss, but it nevertheless showcased more of the same concerning offensive struggles that could well spell doom for the Vikings even before the season gets underway.
Zimmer did give his starters a few turns on the field with Kirk Cousins, Adam Thielen, Michael Pierce, Dalvin Tomlinson, and a few others making their preseason debut on Saturday. Cousins went 5-of-7 for 25 yards and zero touchdowns. Thielen left the game with a limp after suffering a hit on the first offensive drive. But the backups struggled and the Vikings went on to a second straight defeat, failing to come through as the nominal favorites on the NFL odds board.
It’s impossible to tell whether Zimmer has had a change of heart and these defeats are down to a different approach to preseason preparations. However, this is the last chance for the Vikings to get some decent work in before the season gets underway. So, Zimmer will want his side to record a good showing against the Kansas City Chiefs if only to build up confidence for the regular season campaign. It might not go amiss, especially, given how shockingly bad the Vikings were last season.
NFL Predictions and Picks
Based on the contrasting fortunes of both teams in the preseason, the balance quite rightly tips in favour of the Kansas City Chiefs at home. Furthermore, given how badly the Vikings played in the previous games at home, it’s hard to back them to cover this game on the road, never mind winning it. As such, the best bet here is to lay the points with the Chiefs.
NFL Picks: Chiefs -3.5 (+100) at Bet365