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Texans-Vikings Preview: Five Keys to Victory

Houston and Minnesota are both looking to extend their division leads this Sunday, so what can the Texans do to come away with the win?

Houston Texans v New England Patriots
Will this be the week that Lamar Miller finds the end zone?
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Texans travel to the Vikings this week for another difficult road game against an undefeated team. Minnesota has managed to maintain a perfect record on the shoulders of an impressive defense, despite losing Adrian Peterson and Teddy Bridgewater to injuries. Houston is hoping to improve to 4-1 and will need to win out in several key matchups to secure a victory in Week Five.

Texans’ Secondary

Stefon Diggs (who is now doubtful to suit up Sunday) and Kyle Rudolph have both been dangerous this season; they could provide a serious challenge for the Texans’ secondary. Thankfully, Kareem Jackson (who was injured last week against the Titans) is expected to return in time for this week’s matchup. He will join Johnathan Joseph and Kevin Johnson as they attempt to shut down the Vikings’ offensive weapons. Houston has been especially successful against tight ends this season, allowing only 12 receptions for 92 yards and no TDs to the position. The secondary will need to contain the Vikings’ receiving weapons to help Houston to a victory.

The Legion of Zoom

DeAndre Hopkins has been drawing the top coverage from every opponent, leaving Will Fuller as the primary open target. Lamar Miller has been effective at fighting for every yard on the ground, but has yet to find the end zone. If the Texans want to get the better of the Vikings’ defense this week, they will need to spread the ball around and maintain a multi-dimensional attack on offense. Involving Hopkins on a more regular basis can only make the Texans better.

Sam Bradford

Bradford has a history of being a mistake-prone QB, but has been quietly successful this season with the Vikings. He has only compiled four touchdowns and 719 yards through three games, but perhaps more importantly, he has not yet thrown an interception (and that seems unnatural). Houston will need to force some turnovers from the veteran QB if they have any hope of a win on the road this week, and Bradford seems due for a mistake or three.

Brock Osweiler and the Offensive Line

The Vikings’ pass rush is downright terrifying. Couple that with a makeshift Texans’ O-Line that is without starting center Nick Martin for the season, and Osweiler could be under serious pressure. The line may get a boost from the return of Duane Brown, who claims to be ready to play this weekend, but it is unclear as of now how much playing time the veteran will see on Sunday. Despite the line, Osweiler will need to do his best to protect the football from a Vikings’ defense that has forced 11 turnovers this season (second only to Arizona, which have caused 12).

The Vikings’ Run Game

Houston ranks 26th against the run so far this season, and has let both RBs and QBs scamper for big chunks of yardage. Minnesota has managed to keep their ground game moving despite All-Pro RB Peterson being sidelined. Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata have stepped up in Peterson’s absence and performed well. They combined for 95 yards and two TDs last week, with McKinnon handling the bulk of the carries. Houston will need to slow the run tomorrow if they want to keep pressure on Bradford and force him into a few bad throws.

Getting the better of these matchups will be essential for a Texans’ victory on Sunday. What do you think, Texans fans? Are there any other factors that will be important to Houston’s success this weekend? You can see how we at BRB projected the outcome of the game here, and you can use the comment section below to share your own predictions.