Why this won’t be easy for Kansas City

Why this won't be easy for Kansas City

The Chiefs hope to have Patrick Mahomes back under center for Sunday’s home game against the Vikings after the star quarterback missed the last game with a dislocated knee cap.

That’s the good news for Kansas City. The more daunting news for the 5-3 Chiefs, who’ve uncharacteristically lost their past three games at home (where they usually are unbeatable): They play a 6-2 Vikings team that comes in hot, having won its past four games.

Offensively, the Vikings are a handful at the moment.

Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook leads the NFL in rushing yards (823) and touchdowns (nine). He has 293 receiving yards, which makes him the NFL leader in yards from scrimmage with 1,116.

Often-maligned Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is the hottest QB in the league, having completed 91 of 116 passes (78.4 percent) for 1,261 yards, 10 TDs and only one interception in the past four games. Cousins’ passer rating of 137.1 during the four-game winning streak is tops in the league in that span.

This game presents a good challenge for Cousins, who has a historically poor record against winning teams — 6-27. The Vikings’ wins during their four-game streak came over the Giants (2-6), Eagles (4-4), Lions (3-3-1) and Redskins (1-7).

The Chiefs, with Mahomes or without, figure to be a more difficult hurdle for Cousins and his odd struggle to defeat winning teams.

Maybe the fact Vikings coach Mike Zimmer owns a 4-1 record against AFC West teams will offset the Cousins struggle against winning teams.

The expected return of starting receiver Adam Thielen from a hamstring injury should help Cousins. So, too, should the presence of receiver Stefon Diggs, who’s been on fire of late.

Just a few weeks ago, Diggs was grousing about his role. This is what he has done in the past three games: seven catches for 167 yards against the Eagles, 7-for-143 against the Lions and 7-for-143 against the Redskins.

Minnesota’s offense ranks third in yards per game (396.5), yards per play (6.43) and rushing yards per game (160.1), 16th in passing yards per game (236.4) and 10th in points per game (26.4).

The Chiefs are tied for 16th for points allowed (22.6), rank 24th in yards allowed per game (377.0), 30th in rushing yards allowed per game (145.0) and 11th in passing yards allowed per game (232.0).

Defensively, the Vikings rank third in points allowed (16.5), eighth in passing defense (224.5 yards per game) and seventh in rushing defense (89.4 yards per game). They’re third in the league in scoring points differential at plus-79— trailing just the Patriots and 49ers, who are both undefeated.

The Vikings defense has allowed only one rushing touchdown this season, the fewest in the NFL.

With Mahomes back, the Chiefs figure to skew some of those Minnesota defensive numbers. He was listed as questionable on the week’s final injury report, and Coach Andy Reid has been coy about if Mahomes will play.

Without Mahomes, journeyman veteran backup Matt Moore would start in his place. In last week’s loss to the Packers, Moore completed 24 of 36 passes for 267 yards with two TDs and no INTs in his first start since 2017.

“It was nothing new,” Moore told reporters. “I’ve been in this situation before.”

Zimmer told reporters he’s prepared to face either QB.

“We have obviously different calls for both quarterbacks,” Zimmer said. “Then you have your basic things that you try to do to stop the offense. But you have to prepare for both.”

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