By Conor Perrett 

In our next preview of the Thanksgiving games, we’re travelling back up north to Minnesota, as they prepare to host the New England Patriots in the late kick-off at 1.30 a.m. GMT. 

Both teams are coming off low scoring games from themselves. The only difference is Bill Belichick and the Patriots preference is that way and the Vikings hit a major hiccup to their season last time out. 

Minnesota Vikings (8-2)

Power Rankings – 11th

DVOA Rankings: Offence – 19th, Defence – 18th, ST – 26th: Overall – 24th

Despite the 8-2 record, which leaves Minnesota for the tied 2nd best record in the NFL, via football outsiders DVOA’s metrics, they rank 24th in the league.

The gap between the two is enormous and paints a picture into the Vikings performances this season. Minnesota has had the fortune of a fairly easy schedule in the league, but has suffered when playing the big teams. Their win against Buffalo will famously go down as one of the craziest endings in the NFL, but defeats to Eagles and Cowboys have been less watchable.

Minnesota are coming off the biggest lopsided loss in the NFL this season when they lost 40-3 to Dallas. Their offensive gameplay failed miserably and it was an even worse day at the office for the defence. 

The offence, run by former Rams offensive-coordinator Kevin O’Connell, looks promising with Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook and TJ Hockenson who are all stars at their respective positions. The problem may just be the guy throwing them the ball, Kirk Cousins. 

Cousins’ current EPA per dropback this season is minus-0.06, which ranks 26th among the 35 quarterbacks. In a new scheme it’s fair to give him time but there’s been questions about Cousins’ ceiling for some time. Cousins has always struggled when the lights are on him in prime-time games and Thursday night will be no different. 

Maybe a win tonight, he can change the agenda around him against the best defence in the league.

New England Patriots (6-4)

Power Rankings – 13th

DVOA Rankings: Offence – 26th, Defence – 1st, ST – 5th: Overall – 11th

Post Tom Brady, the New England Patriots are in a very different place concentrating more on the defensive part of the game now. New England’s defence is 1st in defensive DVOA as they specialise in suffocating their opponents. 

The defence has carried them through games this year, most recently against the Jets when they won without scoring an offensive touchdown.That’s been the story of the Patriots season so far. 

Defence exceptional, but offence diabolical. The main cause to that has been the quarterback position. Mac Jones has been poor in the passing game and opposing defences have taken advantage of that. The running game hasn’t been too bad, ranking 18th in EPA per rush, but teams have made an effort to stop that and force Jones to beat them.


I think it’s safe to say this game will be on the lower end of scoring. I like the Vikings offence but feel the Patriot’s D will match up well against them. 

The Patriots’ offence hasn’t been good this season by any measure, but when the Cowboys scored 40 against the Vikings last Sunday, it creates blueprints for other teams to use. 

Belichick is the master of that and will take advantage of an inexperienced coaching staff. It will be hard to win on the road but I see it being close towards the end of the game and the underdogs Pats taking the win at the end of Thanksgiving.

Patriots 13-10 Vikings

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