The Vikings will look to prey on the injured Broncos, who have suffered great losses in the past two weeks. But, the Broncos'backups are ready to take advantage of their opportunity to show their talent.
The Vikings are coming off a bye-week and will be welcoming back their starting quarterback, Daunte Culpepper, who suffered fractured bones in his lower back after being tackled by Detroit Lion, Wali Rainer. The Broncos on the other hand, will be welcoming back their second-string quarterback, Steve Beuerlein, since their starting quarterback, Jake Plummer, broke his foot and will be sidelined for at least three weeks. Although Beuerlein struggled during his last performance against the Steelers, Rod Smith has nothing but faith in Beuerlein.
"Beuerlein leads by example," said Smith. "You can tell he is a veteran. He has experience and he understands how to get it done."
Plagued by injuries, the Broncos will have to bypass the trial and error stage and immediately connect on both offense and defense in order to conquer the Vikings.
A strong start for the Broncos defense should interrupt the Vikings' flow, putting more pressure on Culpepper, who is expected to be somewhat rusty. Although, Culpepper has appeared solid in practice over the past week, he will be up against one of the best defenses in the NFL.
With defensive ends Trevor Pryce and Bert Berry, Culpepper shouldn't expect the transition back from the injured list to be easy. Cornerback Lenny Walls will have his hands full trying to stop wide receiver Randy Moss, who has six touchdown receptions in five games. Linebacker Donnie Spragan, who is filling in for Ian Gold, will have to step-up like he did last weekend against the Steelers. Spragan finished the game last weekend with twelve tackles, eight of them being solo.
Steve Beuerlein will have to be consistent and accurate in order to dominate the Vikings'defense, which leads the league in causing turnovers. With Ed McCaffrey listed as probable due to a knee injury, the Broncos will have Rod Smith, Ashley Lelie, and Shannon Sharpe to count on downfield, but will have to depend a lot on running back Clinton Portis to gain yards. The Vikings'secondary is aggressive and dominate, which is expected to put pressure on the Broncos passing game. The Broncos are not favored in this game, but can pull off a win as long as they steer away from offensive errors.
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