Expert Cappers Picks
National Football League
Preview
San Francisco at Minnesota
When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, September 9, 2018
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Minnesota Vikings reached the NFC Championship Game last season and then cleaned house at quarterback to make room for Kirk Cousins. The Cousins era gets underway Sunday, when the Vikings host a rising San Francisco 49ers team that won its final five games last season behind newcomer Jimmy Garoppolo.

Playoff hero Case Keenum, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater all are with new teams after Minnesota invested $84 million over three seasons on Cousins, who has topped 4,000 yards each of the last three years, to help it take the next step. The Vikings led the NFL in total defense (275.9 yards per game) last season, and their 13-3 record was the second-best mark in team history. Garoppolo was and immediate hit after being acquired from New England during the 2017 campaign, and the optimism has carried over to this season. San Francisco has gone four straight seasons without making the playoffs but looks to compete for a spot in Kyle Shanahan's second year as coach.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Vikings -6.5. O/U: 46

ABOUT THE 49ERS (2017: 6-10, 4TH IN NFC WEST): San Francisco added Richard Sherman during the offseason, and the cornerback with an NFL-leading 32 interceptions (while with Seattle) since 2011 is fully recovered from an Achilles injury. The running game is a question mark as newcomer Jerrick McKinnon, who spent his first four years with Minnesota, suffered a season-ending knee injury, so recent addition Alfred Morris and Matt Breida - who missed most of the preseason with a shoulder injury - will share the duties. Garoppolo passed for 1,542 yards in his five starts last year and completed at least 70 percent of his passes in three of the outings.

ABOUT THE VIKINGS (2017: 13-3, 1ST IN NFC NORTH): Running back Dalvin Cook was looking like a star when he rushed for 354 yards in parts of four games last season before tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, but he has recovered and is ready for the campaign. "I just want to go out there and play up to the potential that I know I have in me," Cook told reporters. "I just want to go out there and play up to my potential and help this team win football games." Minnesota's stingy defense is led by star defensive end Everson Griffin (career-best 13 sacks last season) and veteran safety Harrison Smith (career high-tying five interceptions).

EXTRA POINTS

1. The Vikings have won three of the last four meetings, including a 20-3 victory in 2015 in the most recent clash.

2. San Francisco WR Marquise Goodwin recorded 962 receiving yards last year after totaling 780 over his first four NFL seasons with Buffalo.

3. Minnesota WR Adam Thielen (ankle) is expected to play as he is looking to build on last season's career-best totals of 91 receptions and 1,276 yards.

PREDICTION: Vikings 26, 49ers 21
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W‑L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf OT Div Conf
San Francisco 1-0 W1 24.0 21.0 1-0 0-0 1-0 0-0 - - 1-0
Minnesota 1-0 W1 42.0 28.0 0-0 1-0 1-0 0-0 - - 0-0
Last Meeting
San Francisco Minnesota
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
8/27/17 SF 31 MIN 32 431 91 340 374 50 324
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
San Francisco B. Hoyer 70.6 176 2 0
Minnesota C. Keenum 71.4 139 2 0
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
San Francisco M. Breida 7 29 4.1 0
Minnesota J. McKinnon 7 27 3.9 0
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
San Francisco R. Mostert 2 104 52.0 1
Minnesota S. Coley 4 76 19.0 0
Touchdowns Player TD
San Francisco R. Mostert 2
Minnesota R. Adams 1
Season
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
San Francisco C. Beathard 50.0 181 0 1
Minnesota T. Siemian 64.7 165 2 1
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
San Francisco R. Mostert 8 57 7.1 0
Minnesota L. Murray 4 43 10.8 0
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
San Francisco V. Bolden Jr. 3 54 18.0 0
Minnesota R. Thomas 3 102 34.0 2
Touchdowns Player TD
San Francisco R. James 1
Minnesota R. Thomas 2