Saturday's triple header of NFL action begins with a showdown in Cincinnati between the Bengals and Vikings -- two 7-6 teams that are smack dab in the middle of their respective playoff races. It's also a rubber match game, as the two teams both have a 7-7 lifetime record against one another. 

Cincinnati and Minnesota's seasons have been strikingly similar. Both squads started 1-3 before rallying to get to above .500 by Week 9. The Vikings lost starting quarterback Kirk Cousins for the year in Week 8. The Bengals lost Joe Burrow to a season-ending injury in Week 11. Despite those injuries, both teams are still in the hunt to earn one of their conference's three wild-card spots. 

Defense has been the catalyst for the Vikings' turnaround. Along with Danielle Hunter (who is among the NFL's leaders with 13.5 sacks), their unit features an opportunistic secondary, led by six-time Pro Bowler Harrison Smith

Complementary football has been a key component to the Bengals' two-game winning streak. The Bengals' defense, led by pass-rushing extraordinaire Trey Hendrickson (who like Hunter also has 13.5 sacks) has looked more like the unit that helped Cincinnati reach the last two AFC title games. The offense has also picked up the slack while leaning more on running backs Joe Mixon and rookie Chase Brown

Here's how you can follow the action on Saturday, along with our prediction. 

How to watch Vikings-Bengals 

  • When: Saturday, Dec 16 | 1 p.m. ET
  • Where: Paycor Stadium -- Cincinnati, Ohio
  • TV: NFL Network | Live stream: fubo (click here
  • Follow: CBS Sports App   
  • Odds: CIN -3; O/U 40.5 (via Caesars Sportsbook)


Quarterback play is the biggest difference between two otherwise evenly matched teams. Jake Browning has provided quality play over the last two weeks. Conversely, the Vikings recently made the decision to replace Dobbs with Nick Mullens, who hasn't started in a regular-season game since 2021. 

On paper, the Bengals have a pretty sizable advantage at quarterback. But Mullens did have some success early in his career in San Francisco and is capable of beating a good defense if he able to get into a rhythm. This is where Hendrickson and the rest of the Bengals' pass rush comes into play. 

For me, this game comes down to whether or not Browning can make enough plays against the Vikings' defense while also avoiding making mistakes like the pick-six he threw in last Sunday's win over the Colts. If he is able to do both of those things, the Bengals should be on their way to a third straight win. Pick: Bengals 23, Vikings 16