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Tom Brady and the Patriots offense are in for a test with the Vikings’ defense

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Figuring out Minnesota’s elite defense is imperative for Patriots success on Sunday.

NFL: New England Patriots at New York Jets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings come into Foxboro off a huge divisional win over the Green Bay Packers last Sunday night — a game during which one of the NFL’s best defenses stepped up big time. Currently, the top-five unit ranks third in fewest yards allowed per game (314.7), fifth in passing yards (221.1), and is tied for fourth in the league with only 93 rushing yards surrendered per contest.

And that’s not all the problems the team presents for Tom Brady and the Patriots offense: the team’s pass rush has also come to life as of late.

The Vikings defense sacked Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford 10 times in a 24-9 rout two weeks back and limited the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers to just 198 passing yards, a 60% completion percentage and only one touchdown during last Sunday’s win — all while also sacking him four times. Defensive linemen Sheldon Richardson and Danielle Hunter lead the way up front and are always causing concern for opposing passers.

Star cornerback Xavier Rhodes, meanwhile, has not practiced all week due to a hamstring injury and may not play or be up to his normal lockdown self Sunday, so trying to move the ball through the air is a must for the New England Patriots. And with all the pieces slowly becoming healthy again with Rob Gronkowski and Sony Michel back to what looks to be 100%, the Patriots offense now also gets Rex Burkhead back off injured reserve.

With the offense struggling to find some consistency at the moment, expect New England to use some no huddle, up-tempo offense, especially earlier in the game, to try and tire out the talented Minnesota defense — and to try to get some points on the board to put pressure on the opposing offense: even with Stefon Diggs potentially out Sunday, Kirk Cousins has plenty of weapons around him to score some points against New England.

We could be in for an old fashioned shootout in Foxboro come Sunday.