3 favorable matchups for the Vikings in Week 1 vs. the Bengals

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Danielle Hunter
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Danielle Hunter /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports) Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen /

Vikings will have to challenge Bengals in the air

It’s simple: use Dalvin Cook to set up the play-action passing game again this season and let Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen eat away chunk yardage. The Bengals signed veteran cornerbacks over the last two springs when they brought in Chidobe Awuzie (2021) and Trae Waynes (2020).

Waynes, a former Viking, would have had his hands full with his former teammate, Thielen, across from him. We saw how disruptive Thielen and Jefferson were in their first year together, but things should be even better for them this time around. With Irv Smith Jr. likely out for the season, the target share should jump up a bit for each of the two receivers.

As long as the offensive line puts up a fight that we have not seen in recent years, the passing attack will have time to thrive. With the Bengals lacking a true star on their line, it’s fair to assume the Vikings will have limited issues handling pressure.

With Dalvin Cook ready to eat away in the run game and as a receiving threat out of the backfield, linebackers will be playing up to stop him. Kirk Cousins holds the keys to this offense when they want to get explosive, and he did just that a season ago.

Let Cook do his work early on but set up the passing attack all afternoon. Despite Awuzie being a solid veteran corner, he will need help from Jessie Bates III in covering Minnesota’s weapons. With Waynes already ruled out for the matchup, Cincinnati needs to dig deep on defense to stop Minnesota’s high-powered offense.

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The Vikings offense should expect to put up points on the road against the Bengals in Week 1.