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Minnesota Vikings vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Preview and Prediction

Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown

It’s way too early to call Sunday’s Minnesota-Pittsburgh matchup a possible Super Bowl preview, but the Vikings and Steelers certainly both have playoff expectations. And both showed why in Week 1.

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Pittsburgh went to Cleveland and came away with a 21-18 win that never felt as close as the score. The Steelers never trailed, led 21-10 for most of the second half and ran out the clock thanks to clutch plays from their stars after Cleveland pulled within three. While Le’Veon Bell looked rusty after holding out until a week before the game, Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown picked up the slack. And the defense racked up seven sacks and held Browns backs to 40 yards on 20 carries.

Minnesota was more impressive in a home win over New Orleans. Sam Bradford had one of the best games of his career, hitting 27-of-32 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns. Behind a revamped offensive line, Bradford was sacked only once, and rookie Dalvin Cook rushed for 127 yards. Drew Brees and the Saints moved the ball well against the Minnesota defense, but the Vikes were stellar in the red zone, forcing three field goals from under 25 yards. By the time Brees finally found the end zone with 1:56 left, the game was out of reach. Can Minnesota repeat that feat against another future Hall of Fame passer? 

Minnesota at Pittsburgh

Kickoff: Sunday, Sept. 17 at 1 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: Steelers -6

Three Things to Watch

1. Antonio Brown vs. Xavier Rhodes

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The game-within-the-game to watch will be when Pittsburgh has the ball will be All-Pro WR Antonio Brown against CB Xavier Rhodes, who made his first Pro Bowl last season when he intercepted five passes. Rhodes is a big corner (6-1, 218) who on paper should be able to get physical with Brown (5-11, 181) and mess with the rhythm of the Steelers passing game. But Brown has proven time after time that he can get open against just anyone with four straight 100-catch seasons. He picked up right where he left off with 11 catches for 182 yard in Week 1. But Rhodes has proven up to the task against the best as well. Odell Beckham Jr. was held to 23 yards on three catches against the Vikings last season, mostly because Rhodes manhandled him all over the field. He may need to do the same to slow down Brown.