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Chiefs-Vikings preview: Can the defense avoid getting Cooked?

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The Vikings running back is one of the best players in the NFL this year.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

On this week’s mailbag/game preview edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory, we talked about three points on offense and three points on defense to watch in Sunday night’s game.

Offense

Is Patrick Mahomes playing?

We may not know for sure until official designations come out Friday afternoon. Even then, the Chiefs could rule Mahomes questionable and make him a game-time decision. The Chiefs should be without Eric Fisher and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, as they are trending toward not playing based on practice reports. That means the line will again be short-handed. I doubt Mahomes goes with all those factors considered. To throw him in the mix this week with a beat-up offensive line is a tough ask because...

The Viking pass rush is very good

Minnesota is just two sacks behind Kansas City in the yearly totals with 23 on the year as a team. Led by Danielle Hunter (8.0 sacks) and Everson Griffen (4.5 sacks), this group will get after you. The line has had its struggles this season so far, and this is another game that will present a significant challenge. It’s a talented, aggressive, physical defensive front.

Will the wide receivers make a play?

If the Chiefs are going to have success this week, the wide receivers will again have to step up and make plays for Matt Moore. We saw Mecole Hardman take plays behind the line of scrimmage for big gains. We know what the likes of Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins are capable of with the ball in their hands. If the Vikings utilize man coverage, the receivers have to get open for the backup quarterback to give the Chiefs a chance.

Defense

Affecting Kirk Cousins

Cousins was the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for October. He’s hot. That isn’t to say Cousins can’t be beat or can’t quickly crash down to earth. The Minnesota quarterback has shown a propensity to put balls at risk when pressure at a higher clip than others. Throws can wind up lofted high and over receivers heads when pressured. If the Chiefs can find ways to affect Cousins, he could certainly give them a chance to make a big turnover.

Avoiding getting (Dalvin) Cooked

The run game for the Vikings has been exceptional to this point. There have been times this season in which Minnesota has barely thrown the ball because of the work they were doing on the ground (and perhaps a lack of trust early in Cousins). The rushing attack is led by the NFL scrimmage yard leader Dalvin Cook who is having the best year of his young career. This is the most significant challenge the Chiefs have faced in the run game to this point. They’ve had their woes, but showing more signs of life this week would bring hope for the future.

Testing the Chiefs cornerbacks

This is a massive challenge for Chiefs cornerbacks this week as they face the likes of Stefon Diggs and potentially Adam Thielen. If the Chiefs have to devote resources to stopping the run game, that’s going to put Charvarius Ward, Bashaud Breeland (if he plays), Kendall Fuller and Mo Claiborne in potentially difficult situations — especially the outside corners. We could get some answers as to whether this group is good enough to win a title on Sunday.

Arrowhead Pride Laboratory

We went into further detail on these storylines and listed players we’re looking forward to watching on this episode edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory.