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Minnesota Vikings vs. Denver Broncos Preview and Prediction

Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning

The Minnesota Vikings (2-1) enter Week 4 coming off back-to-back wins against the Detroit Lions and San Diego Chargers. The Vikings have gotten two consecutive standout performances by Adrian Peterson, whose looked like a former MVP, despite coming off a nearly year-long suspension.

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Minnesota travels to the Mile High City to face the Denver Broncos (3-0) on Sunday. Five-time MVP Peyton Manning is looking to prove that his Hall of Fame career isn’t over just yet. Manning has thrown for 580 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions in his last two games.

It’s a battle of two of the league’s most polarizing players at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, which team will emerge in this cross-conference matchup? Let’s take a look.

Minnesota at Denver

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET (Sunday)
TV Channel: FOX
Spread: Denver -7 

Three Things to Watch

1. Adrian Peterson is still Adrian Peterson

In case you forgot, Peterson is still the best running back in the NFL. It’s amazing how he not only gets better with time, but also time off. Peterson bounced back from a torn ACL injury to win his only league MVP award in 2012. Despite a lackluster performance in Week 1 — which was due to limited carries — he’s looked as good as ever in his past two games. Even at 30 — the age when most backs see a decline — Peterson looks as good if not better than he has his entire nine-year career.

2. Peyton Manning back to form in the Pistol

Manning seemed to struggle in Gary Kubiak’s new offensive scheme until the Broncos added more plays out of the Pistol formation. Manning, like Peterson, returned to form when he moved back from under center. Sure, he might be a seasoned version of his old self, but Manning is still better than the majority of the league even at 75 percent of his old self. The Sheriff can silence the doubt with another strong performance against a young, underrated Minnesota defense at home and prove that Father Time is on his side.

3. Teddy Bridgewater as more than a game manager?

When you share a backfield with Peterson it’s easy to excel as a game manager. Bridgewater has looked sharp since the Vikings increased the running back’s carries during the past two games. But can the former first-round draft pick lead the Vikings as a prolific passer if needed? Bridgewater has the talent and awareness to be one of the NFL's top-tier quarterbacks early in his maturation process. But again, having Peterson is the ultimate complement to any young QB.

Final Analysis

Minnesota has looked like the complete team some expect to challenge Green Bay for NFC North supremacy. The Vikings' defense continues to improve and could pressure Manning into another questionable performance. If the offense continues to center around Peterson, Minnesota could be a serious contender in the NFC. Sunday's game should prove the Vikings' legitimacy after capturing back-to-back wins against struggling opponents.

Prediction: Vikings 21, Broncos 14

— Written by Jason Hall, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and works for Fox Sports Florida. Follow him on Twitter@jasonhallFSN.