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Game Preview: Patriots at Vikings

The New England Patriots will travel to Minnesota to face the Vikings in a Thanksgiving night football game in their first regular season visit to U.S. Bank Stadium.

2022wk12-vikings-GamePreview-16x9

WEEK 12 · Thu 11/24 · 8:20 PM EST

Patriots

New England Patriots

AT

Vikings

Minnesota Vikings

NBC / NBC Boston
98.5 FM The Sports Hub
U.S. BANK STADIUM

The New England Patriots will travel to Minnesota to face the Vikings in a Thanksgiving night football game in their first regular season visit to U.S. Bank Stadium. Beginning with the Thanksgiving game, the Patriots will play four straight prime-time games for the first time in team history. A week after Thanksgiving, the Patriots will host the Buffalo Bills on Thursday, Dec. 1. It will be the first time in team history with back-to-back Thursday games and the third time in team history playing in two Thursday games in the same season. The Patriots played twice on Thursday during the 2015 and 2017 seasons. The Patriots will then travel for their next two prime-time games with a Monday Night Football game at Arizona on Dec. 12, followed by a Sunday Night Football game at Las Vegas on Dec. 18. In 2007, the Patriots had a stretch of three-straight prime-time games. The last team to play in four straight prime-time games was the 2017 Pittsburgh Steelers.

PATRIOTS ON THANKSGIVING (3-2)

This week's game will mark the Patriots' sixth appearance in a Thanksgiving Game.

Table inside Article
DATEOPPONENTSCORE
11/24/1984Dallas17-20 (L)
11/23/2000Detroit9-34 (L)
11/28/2002Detroit20-12 (W)
11/25/2010Detroit45-24 (W)
11/22/2012N.Y. Jets49-19 (W)

BELICHICK ON THANKSGIVING (5-3)

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has coached eight times on Thanksgiving: twice as an assistant coach with the Detroit Lions (1976-77), once with the Denver Broncos (1978), once with the N.Y. Giants (1982), and four times as the head coach of the New England Patriots (2000, 2002, 2010, 2012). He has a 5-3 record in those games.

SERIES HISTORY

The New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings will meet for the 14th time overall and for the first time since 2018 when the Patriots defeated the Vikings, 24-10, on Dec. 2, 2018 at Gillette Stadium for their fifth straight win against the Vikings.

The Patriots, who are 3-2 all-time in games played in Minnesota, will visit U.S. Bank Stadium for a regular season game for the first time. The Patriots lost Super Bowl LII at the stadium against Philadelphia.

The Patriots and Vikings will play in the 7th different stadium this week with the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. The teams played at Harvard Stadium, Foxboro Stadium and Gillette Stadium in home games and on the road at Metropolitan Stadium, the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome and the TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota. The Patriots have played against the Jets and Raiders in 11 different stadiums.

Two of the more memorable games were a 1994 Patriots win and a 2006 Monday Night Football win. The Patriots entered the 1994 matchup with a 3-6 record before overcoming a 20-0 deficit for a 26-20 win that sparked a seven-game winning streak and a 10-6 record to earn a playoff berth. Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe set NFL records with 45 completions and 70 attempts while passing for a then team-record 426 yards in that game. Tom Brady led the Patriots to a 31-7 win after completing 29-of-43 passes for 372 yards with four touchdowns in the 2006 victory at Minnesota.

SERIES TRENDS

Overall Record: 9-4

Record in New England: 6-2

  • Harvard Stadium: 0-1
  • Schaefer/Sullivan/Foxboro Stadium: 3-1
  • Gillette Stadium: 3-0

Record in Minneapolis: 3-2

  • TCF Bank Stadium: 1-0
  • Metropolitan Stadium: 1-0
  • HHH Metrodome: 1-2

Bill Belichick vs. Minnesota: 5-3 (5-1 with New England)

SCOUTING THE MATCHUPS

By Paul Perillo

When the Patriots run - Edge: Vikings

The Vikings run defense has been largely average all season: 18th in yards allowed per game (121.6) and 14th per play (4.39). The Patriots rushing attack has been largely average all season long as well: 17th in yards gained per game (117.2) and 26th per play (4.05). But given the state of the Patriots offensive line, which might be without both David Andrews (thigh) and Isaiah Wynn (foot), Minnesota gets the edge. Nose tackle Harrison Phillips is tough inside and helps linebackers Eric Kendricks and Jordan Hicks make plays. The Patriots promising start to the season on the ground has all but disappeared in recent weeks. Since a breakout career performance against Detroit, Rhamondre Stevenson has been held in check. He was limited to 26 yards on 15 carries against the Jets on Sunday. Damien Harris did provide a lift with eight carries for 65 yards, including runs of 30 and 22 yards. But even with those two explosive plays the Patriots managed just 99 yards on 26 carries for a pedestrian 3.8-yard average. With Andrews and Wynn out of the lineup, the Vikings should be able to contain what has become an ordinary running game.

When the Patriots pass - Edge: Patriots

The Vikings secondary has been terrible all season. Minnesota ranks 31st in both passing yards allowed per game (267.3) and per play (7.59). Corners Patrick Peterson, Andrew Booth and Chandon Sullivan join safeties Harrison Smith and Camryn Bynum but the group has struggled. As much as they have struggled, Smith (4) and Peterson (3) have combined for seven picks, so protecting the football will be paramount once again. The one area of concern for the Patriots, again given the banged-up nature of the offensive line, will be pass protection. Minnesota has a pair of productive pass rushers in Za'Darius Smith (9.5) and Danielle Hunter (six), who have combined for 15.5 of the Vikings 26 sacks. Mac Jones has struggled dealing with pressure recently having been sacked 16 times over his last three starts including six in each of the outings against the Jets. If Jones can get comfortable he should be able to use Jakobi Meyers and his tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith effectively. Although it wasn't consistent, Jones was able to use the latter two at times against the Jets. Given the problems the Vikings had with Dallas' Tony Pollard as a receiver, look for Stevenson to once again be featured in the passing game. This could be a game that Jones is able to show some progress after several weeks of struggles.

When the Vikings run - Edge: Patriots

On paper the Vikings have the pieces for a dynamic running game. Dalvin Cook is one of the most explosive backs in the league, and he averages 5.1 yards per carry for the season and has 799 yards and six touchdowns. But as a team the Vikings have struggled to establish the run, even with Cook in the lineup. Minnesota ranks 24th in the league, averaging 103.6 rushing yards per game. The ranking improves to 16th in average per carry at 4.5, but aside from the big-play ability of Cook, Minnesota struggles to run it consistently. Alexander Mattison spells Cook but hasn't been as productive, averaging 3.5 yards per carry on 42 attempts. It won't be any easier without left tackle Christian Darrisaw, who was forced out of the Cowboys loss with a concussion and won't play on Thanksgiving. Going against a suddenly stout Patriots front won't be easy, either. After a couple of shaky outings against Baltimore, Green Bay and Chicago, the Patriots front seven has stiffened considerably. New England shut down the Jets ground game and currently ranks 13th, allowing 114.5 yards per game and 17th in average yards per carry (4.47). Given the recent work of Lawrence Guy, Davon Godchaux, Deatrich Wise and linebackers Ja'Whaun Bentley and Jahlani Tavai, the Patriots should be able to contain Cook & Co.

When the Vikings pass - Edge: Patriots

At this point the Patriots defense is on a heater, and given Kirk Cousins' struggles in big spots expect the strong play to continue. Cousins is the triggerman for a Vikings passing attack that ranks 10th in the league, averaging 234.9 yards per game. That total becomes less impressive when examining a bit closer, however. The Vikings average just 6.07 yards per pass attempt, which ranks 26th in the league. That said, the pieces for an explosive offense exist if Cousins gets hot. He's been rather pedestrian all season, completing 63.4 percent of his passes for 2,461 yards and 14 touchdowns with eight interceptions. He's also been sacked 27 times, including seven in Minnesota's 40-3 loss to the Cowboys. Cousins has one of the game's best wideouts in Justin Jefferson (72 receptions, 1,093 yards, four touchdowns), and Adam Thielen (45-492-2) is a solid No. 2. But the Vikings haven't been able to consistently produce offensively, even with the addition of tight end T.J. Hockenson. Hockenson already faced the Patriots this season as a member of the Lions, but since coming to Minnesota via trade he's been productive. The tight end has 21 catches in three games in Minnesota and has emerged as Cousins' security outlet. The Patriots pass defense has been outstanding, ranking fourth in the league in both yards allowed per game (188.3) and per play (5.83). And with Matthew Judon (13 sacks) terrorizing opposing quarterbacks expect that strong play to continue.

Special Teams - Edge: Patriots

Rookie Marcus Jones has flashed explosiveness as a punt returner since taking over the role in early October. That flash turned into a blaze with his 84-yard walk-off touchdown to beat the Jets with the game's only touchdown. That lifted the Patriots into a third-place tie with the Jets and provided a huge lift for the team heading into Thanksgiving. Nick Folk finally proved human as he missed a pair of field goals into the wind against New York, but he remains a huge plus for the Patriots. Minnesota counters with Greg Joseph, who's connected on 14 of 19 field goals and just 21 of 25 PATs on the season. Michael Palardy replaced the struggling Jake Bailey and had a strong game, averaging 41.1 net yards on his seven punts. Minnesota's Ryan Wright is enjoying a solid season with 23 of his 48 punts downed inside the 20 with no touchbacks. He's averaging a solid 43.3 net yards on the season. Jones gives the Patriots an edge in the return game against Minnesota's Jalen Reagor, who averages just 6.8 yards per punt return. Kene Nwangwu is more effective on kickoffs, averaging 23.9 yards with a long of 39. Both teams have been effective from a coverage standpoint, but Jones give the Patriots the advantage.

TALE OF THE TAPE

Table inside Article
2022 REGULAR SEASONNEW ENGLANDMINNESOTA
Record6-48-2
Divisional Standings3rd1st
Total Yards Gained3,1763,385
Total Offense (Rank)317.6 (25)338.5 (18)
Rush Offense115.4 (17)103.6 (24)
Pass Offense202.0 (24)234.9 (10)
Points Per Game21.3 (20)22.9 (13)
Total Yards Allowed3,0283,889
Total Defense (Rank)302.8 (4)388.9 (29)
Rush Defense114.5 (13)121.6 (18)
Pass Defense188.3 (4)267.3 (31)
Points Allowed/Game16.9 (2)23.1 (19)
Possession Avg.31:0028:40
Sacks Allowed/Yards Lost28/18227/199
Sacks Made/Yards36/23326/171
Total Touchdowns Scored2227
Penalties Against/Yards60/47354/436
Punts/Avg.44/42.648/46.8
Turnover Differential0 (16T)+7 (3T)
Punts/Avg.44/42.648/46.8

CONNECTIONS

Former Vikings

  • None

Former Patriots

  • James O'Shaughnessy
  • Kevin O'Connell

WHAT TO LOOK FOR...

  • The 2022 Patriots begin a stretch of four straight primetime games for the first time in team history. In 2007, the Patriots had three straight primetime games. New England will be just the third team since 2000 to play four consecutive primetime games, joining the 2017 Pittsburgh Steelers and the 2016 Dallas Cowboys.
  • Minnesota head coach Kevin O'Connell is one of two 2022 opponents whose head coach was drafted by New England – O'Connell was a third-round pick of the Patriots in 2008 out of San Diego State. Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury (6th round pick in 2002) is the other head coach drafted by New England. The last team to face two drafted players as a head coach was Chicago in 2014 (Jim Harbaugh and Ron Rivera).
  • The Patriots will play on Thanksgiving for the sixth time in team history when they travel to play at Minnesota.
  • The Patriots have not allowed a touchdown in their last two games, following a 26-3 win vs Indianapolis and a 10-3 win against the Jets last Sunday. The last time the Patriots didn't allow a touchdown in consecutive games was in 2019 when they prevented a touchdown in each of their first three games of the season.
  • The Patriots enter this week with 36 sacks, second in the NFL to the 42 sacks by Dallas. The Patriots are on pace to finish with 61 sacks. If the Patriots continue the current pace they will finish with the second-most sacks in team history to the 66 in 1963. The most sacks the team has had under Bill Belichick is 49 sacks in 2015.
  • The Patriots have held their opponent under 200 yards in the last two games with 121 yards vs. Indianapolis (11/06) and 103 yards vs the New York Jets (11/20). The last time the Patriots held their opponent under 200 yards in at least three straight games was a four-game stretch in 2005 – Dec. 4 vs. the New York Jets (164 yards), Dec. 11 at Buffalo (183 yards), Dec. 17 vs. Tampa Bay (138 yards) and Dec. 26 at the New York Jets (171 yards).
  • Bill Belichick has won at least one game in 50 different stadiums, including the postseason. The only two current stadiums where he hasn't recorded a win are U.S. Bank Stadium and Allegiant Stadium. Andy Reid is second wins in 43 different stadiums.
  • S Devin McCourty enters this week tied with Harrison Smith for the most interceptions among all active NFL players with 33. McCourty, Harrison Smith, Marcus Peters and Patrick Peterson are the only active players with at least 30 interceptions. The Patriots are 26-4 when McCourty has a pick in a regular season game. McCourty's 33 interceptions are second in team history to the 36 by Ty Law and Raymond Clayborn.
  • McCourty's 551 return yards are third in team history. He needs five return yards to move past Clayborn for second on the all-time team list.
  • McCourty has 39 career takeaways and needs one more to become fourth Patriots player with 40 total takeaways, tying Ty Law for third in franchise history.
  • McCourty has started every game he has played (198) and is third in team history in starts and 6th in team history in games played.
  • K Nick Folk needs four field goals to become the fifth Patriots player with 100 field goals.
  • DB Jalen Mills has two interceptions so far in 2022. He needs one more interception this year to match his career-high of three interceptions that he had in 2017 with Philadelphia.
  • RB Rhamondre Stevenson has averaged 6.0 yards per carry in two games so far in 2022 with a 6.1 average (12-73) vs. Baltimore (9/25) and a 6.4 average (25-161) vs. Detroit (10/9). The last Patriots player to have three games averaging 6.0-yards per carry in a single season was Dion Lewis in 2017. The most games in a season for the Patriots with a 6.0- yard average is RB Carl Garrett with four games in 1969.
  • Rookie Marcus Jones, who won the 2021 Paul Hornung Award as the nation's most versatile player after returning two punts and two kickoff returns for a touchdown in college in 2021, ranks first in the NFL with 623 total return yards (283 punt return yards and 340 kickoff return yards).
  • Jones is second in the NFL with a 24.3-yard kickoff return average and second in the NFL with a 16.6 punt return average.
  • Jones returned a punt 84 yards for a touchdown last week with five seconds to play against the Jets to secure a 10-3 victory. The last NFL player to return a punt for a touchdown in consecutive weeks was Patrick Peterson as a rookie with Arizona in 2011 – Oct. 30, 2011 at Baltimore and Nov. 6, 2011 vs. St. Louis.
  • If Jones returns a punt for a touchdown this week in Minnesota, he will become the fourth Patriots player to return two punts for a touchdown in the same season. The other three Patriots players to have accomplished the feat were – Troy Brown in 2001, Irving Fryar in 1985 and Mike Haynes in 1976.
  • WR DeVante Parker is second in the NFL with a 20.0-yard average per reception. Buffalo's Gabe Davis is first with a 21.1-yard average. They are the only NFL players to have a 20-yard average in 2022. The last Patriots player to average over 20 yards a reception was Rob Gronkowski in 2016 with a 21.6-yard average. The highest average in a single season for New England was Stanley Morgan in 1978 with a 24.1-yard average. Parker's career high was in 2015 as a rookie in Miami when he averaged 19.0 yards per reception.
  • LB Matthew Judon is leading the NFL with a career-high 13 sacks and is on pace to finish with 22 sacks. Only five NFL players have finished the season with at least 22 sacks. The Patriots have never had a player lead the NFL in sacks.
  • Andre Tippett is the only Patriots player that has had more sacks in a season than Judon. Tippett had 18.5 sacks in 1984 and 16.5 sacks in 1985.
  • Judon has recorded three games with at least two sacks in a game in 2022. The team record is six games with at least two sacks by Andre Tippett in 1984. The NFL record is eight games by Reggie White with Philadelphia in 1987. Micah Parsons from Dallas has five such games so far in 2022.
  • WR Tyquan Thornton scored on a 19-yard touchdown run at Cleveland on Oct. 16, 2022. He is the sixth Patriots wide receiver to score on a touchdown run and first since Cordarrelle Patterson in 2018. If Thornton has a rushing touchdown this week he will become the first Patriots wide receiver with two rushing touchdowns in the same season and would join Darryl Stingley as the only other Patriots wide receiver with two rushing touchdowns for his Patriots career.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

TELEVISION: This week's game will be broadcast by NBC and can be seen locally on NBC 10 Boston. Mike Tirco will handle play-by-play duties with Tony Dungy and Jason Garrett as the color analyst. Melissa Stark will work from the sidelines. The game will be produced by Robert Hyland and directed by Drew Esocoff.

NATIONAL RADIO: Thursday's game will be broadcast to a national audience on Westwood One. Bill Rosinski will call the game with Ryan Harris providing analysis.

LOCAL RADIO: 98.5 The Sports Hub is the flagship station for the Patriots Radio Network. A complete listing of the network's 33 stations can be found here. Play-by-play broadcaster Bob Socci will call the action along with former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak, who will provide color analysis. The games are produced by Marc Cappello.

For information on how to stream the game please visit our Ways to Watch guide.

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