Foxborough, MA - To finish the 2018 NFL regular season, the New England Patriots will face the Minnesota Vikings, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and each of their division foes (the Miami Dolphins, the New York Jets, and the Buffalo Bills). As of right now, it seems like their game against the Steelers will be the most pivotal, barring any week seventeen seeding scenarios. But I would say that this week's late Sunday afternoon game against the Minnesota Vikings is going to bring the biggest challenge to New England.
Currently, the Vikings are embroiled with a tough Wild Card race in the NFC and are included among teams like the Carolina Panthers, the Washington Redskins, and the Seattle Seahawks. All of these teams pose tough competition for Minnesota, meaning every game for the Vikings has become a crucial one to win. Traveling to Foxborough will provide no easy task for the team in purple and gold, but I have to believe with the Chicago Bears dominating the AFC North, the Vikings are going to give everything they can to defeat the New England Patriots.
That being said, I am still predicting the Patriots as victors in the game. The will to win and the tricks that the Patriots pull out to do whatever it takes positions them as favorites, in my mind. I do believe, however, that it will come down to the last minutes of the game and could very easily feature a clutch moment from Stephen Gostkowski.
The Patriots have a lot going for them in the week leading up to kickoff, though. For one, Rob Gronkowski is showing promising signs of playing once again after a having a strong re-emergence against the Jets last weekend. Despite this, Gronk could very well be destined for the injury report for the remainder of his career.
Dwayne Allen also made his return to practice and the Patriots sure would love to have both tight ends back in their offensive schemes this week. Speaking of these, the backfield is going to be rounded out a little bit more as James White and Sony Michel will be joined by Rex Burkhead, who has finally returned after a stint on the injured reserve.
This game could feature the closest thing the Patriots will experience to full health as they have all season, leading to a surefire advantage.