In comparison to the quarterbacks that Minnesota has had during the Zimmer era, Kirk Cousins has proven he’s the best they’ve had so far despite only playing nine regular season games in a Vikings uniform. Through Cousin’s nine games he has thrown for 2,685 passing yards, which is seventh in the league. Kirk has shown his accuracy this year with a completion percentage of 71.4%. Most importantly he has been able to put the team on his back when it matters most, best exemplified by his heroic comeback performance in the fourth quarter of the Week 2 Vikings–Packers matchup at Lambeau Field.
Both Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are having impressive seasons, showing why they are the best wide receiver duo in the league. Thielen is tied for the league lead in receptions with a total of 78, while Diggs is tenth in the league with 58 receptions. Most remarkably, Thielen and Diggs have been able to consistently to perform as a dynamic duo, combining for over 175 receiving yards per game. Laquon Treadwell may have not turned into the star Minnesota hoped for when they drafted him in the first round in 2015, but he has been able to be a solid number 3 receiver for the Vikings, hauling in 27 receptions which is already a career high in receptions.
The Minnesota offense has excelled with their passing attack but has struggled when it has comes to running the ball. Through Week 10 of the NFL season, they rank 29th in the league in rushing yards per game. Although star running back Dalvin Cook has only played in four games this season, the Vikings still have enough talent to better their rushing attack. This is an area that Minnesota should be able to improve throughout their last seven games, especially with Dalvin Cook back at full health.
The Vikings offense has played well, but they have struggled with red zone conversions, third-down conversions, and fumbles. They currently rank 17th in the league in red zone conversion rate, which is something they’ll have to improve upon if they want to be a Super Bowl contender. Their third down offense still has room for improvement, ranking 19th in the NFL. Surprisingly, the Vikings have fumbled the ball ten times, worst in the league, with eight of those coming from quarterback Kirk Cousins.
The Vikings defense hasn’t played as well as it did in 2017 but is still amongst the best defenses in the NFL. Throughout the first nine games of the season, Danielle Hunter has been the best player on that side of the ball with 11.5 sacks, 13 TFL, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. Led by Hunter, the Minnesota pass rush is tied for the most sacks in the NFL. As a unit, the defense is the ranked third in terms of rushing yards per game and ranked fifth in total yards per game. With the much-needed rest of the bye week, look for the fully healthy defense to continue to play at a very high level.
Although the Vikings have played well defensively, they have regressed a fair bit from the 2017 season. This could be for a variety of reasons such as lower quality of play, but the injuries to prominent players have definitely contributed. Through nine games SS Andrew Sendejo has only played in five, LB Anthony Barr has played seven and DE Everson Griffen playing in four games. The hope for Minnesota is that they will be able to get their defensive stars back at full health after a bye week.
In 2017 the Vikings defense was the number one scoring defense, meaning they allowed the fewest points per game. This year they are currently ranked 11th, which is a significant regression. If the Vikings are going to be able to keep up with the juggernauts in the NFC their defense has to step up. In their Week 4 loss to the Rams, the Minnesota defense allowed 456 passing yards from Jared Goff.
After an awful Week 2 game, the Vikings were able to move on from rookie Daniel Carlson and bring in the veteran kicker and former Cowboy, Dan Bailey. Bailey, Carlson’s replacement, has been 12-of-15 on field goals and 16-of-17 on extra points which is a significant improvement in comparison to his predecessor.
In the 2018 NFL Draft the Vikings spent a 5th round pick on kicker Daniel Carlson. As a kicker, being drafted that high meant that Minnesota had very high expectations for him. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to deliver, missing three field goals, two of which would have ended the game. That wasn’t the only large special teams miscue in the disappointing Week 2 tie, with the Packers blocking a Vikings punt and recovering it for a touchdown.
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