MINNESOTA (7-9) at CINCINNATI (4-11-1)
Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT, Fox
OPENING LINE: Vikings by 3, according to FanDuel SportsBook
SERIES RECORD: Vikings lead 7-6
LAST MEETING: Vikings beat Bengals 34-7 on Dec. 17, 2017, in Minnesota.
VIKINGS OFFENSE: OVERALL (4), RUSH (5), PASS (14), SCORING (11).
VIKINGS DEFENSE: OVERALL (27), RUSH (27), PASS (25), SCORING (29).
BENGALS OFFENSE: OVERALL (29), RUSH (24), PASS (27), SCORING (29).
BENGALS DEFENSE: OVERALL (26), RUSH (29), PASS (19), SCORING (22).
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Vikings minus-1; Bengals minus-7.
VIKINGS PLAYER TO WATCH: RB Dalvin Cook racked up 1,557 yards last season, good for the second in the NFL behind Tennessee's Derrick Henry. He averaged more than 111 yards per game and scored 16 touchdowns.
BENGALS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Joe Burrow was flashing great potential as a rookie by the time he went down with a knee injury in Week 11. Burrow is back in 2021 after surgery and rehab but as a protective measure played just one series in the preseason, in the final game.
KEY MATCHUP: Cook vs. Cincinnati defensive front. Partially due to injuries, the Bengals had a terrible time stopping the run last season. Tackle D.J. Reader is healthy again and tackle Larry Ogunjobi was brought in to beef up the middle.
KEY INJURIES: Bengals CB Trae Waynes (hamstring) will miss the opener. Waynes missed all of 2020 with a torn pectoral. ... Vikings TE Irv Smith Jr. (knee) is out for the season. ... Vikings LB Anthony Barr (unspecified) has not practiced since Aug. 5.
SERIES NOTES: The series has been dominated by the home team. The Bengals lead 6-1 in Cincinnati, but have not won in six visits to Minnesota. The Vikings won the most recent meeting in Minnesota in 2017 with Case Keenum throwing for two touchdowns.
STATS AND STUFF: Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was the defensive coordinator for the Bengals from 2008-13. ... Minnesota scored on 50 of 59 trips to the red zone (86.4%) last season. ... Minnesota is 5-2 in season openers in the Zimmer era. ... Vikings DE Danielle Hunter returns after missing the entire 2020 season due to a neck injury. The youngest player in NFL history to reach 50 career sacks, Hunter had the third most in the league over the 2016-19 seasons. ... Vikings QB Kirk Cousins posted his single-game career high with 458 passing yards against the Bengals while with Washington in 2016. ... Just seven of the 22 players who started the season finale for the Bengals are expected to start Sunday. Nearly half (22 of 46) of the players who saw action in that game, including eight starters, are not on the current 53-man roster. ... Of the 15 listed starters on Cincinnati's 2021 depth chart who were with the team last season, six saw their 2020 seasons end early due to injuries, including Burrow and RB Joe Mixon. ... Burrow and Bengals WR Ja'Marr Chase were teammates on LSU's 2019 national championship team with Minnesota WR Justin Jefferson.
FANTASY TIP: Bengals WR Tee Higgins led the team as a rookie with 908 receiving yards. Much of the attention will be on rookie Chase, the team's top overall pick in 2021, but he dropped a concerning number of passes in the preseason. Burrow could look to Higgins Sunday.
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