Five questions for the Bengals against the Vikings

Andy Lyons

Taking a look at five issues heading into Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings.

Rebounding after a loss: The Cincinnati Bengals are 3-1 this season after a loss. They recovered from a season-opening loss to the Bears with a Monday Night win against the Steelers. A shocking 17-6 loss to the Browns was followed by a 13-6 win over the New England Patriots, but an overtime loss in Miami was mirrored with an overtime loss in Baltimore. Cincinnati recovered with an explosive 41-20 redemption win over the Browns in week 11. Since the week nine bye week in 2012, the Bengals are 5-1 after a loss.

Bengals passing against the Vikings defense: Andy Dalton could have a great afternoon, we offer hesitantly after saying that in the past without the prognostication coming into fruition. However, the Vikings are allowing 290.6 yards passing per game (30th in the NFL), 32 passing touchdowns (dead last), a 96.3 opposing quarterback rating (26th), and a completion rate of 64.1 percent (25th). To get Minnesota's greatest threat, Adrian Peterson, out of the game, the Bengals need a quick start through the air.

Stopping Adrian Peterson and the Vikings run game: Heading into the game, the Minnesota Vikings are averaging 128 yards rushing per game (10th in the NFL) with a league-leading 21 scores on the ground. With news that Peterson will play on Sunday, the Bengals fifth ranked rushing defense will face the league's second-best running back who is looking for another rushing title.

Special teams needs to recover from last week: Cincinnati's special teams had such a horrible start last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, many will argue that it was a catalyst for the Bengals loss last Sunday Night. The Bengals have a new punter in Shawn Powell and will face one of the best returners in Cordarrelle Patterson, who is averaging 33.3 yards per return with a league-high two touchdowns. Vikings punt returner Marcus Sherels is averaging 13.1 yards per punt return (sixth among those with 10 returns or more) with a touchdown.

Watching the other games: Neither game has a direct influence on Cincinnati's performance against the Vikings, but if the New England Patriots and/or the Buffalo Bills win this weekend, Cincinnati can finally secure a postseason berth. With a win over the Vikings and a Ravens loss against the Patriots, the Bengals are AFC North Champions. A Bengals win and a Miami Dolphins loss in Buffalo will, at the very least, give Cincinnati a postseason berth and eliminate Miami from conversation (if the Ravens win).

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