Tuesday Impressions: Vikings Have a Legit Shot at the Playoffs

It wasn’t pretty, but it’s still a win, one that gives the Vikings a legit shot at the playoffs. Indeed, the Minnesota Vikings beat the Chicago Bears 19-13, extending their winning streak to three games. FiveThirtyEight now gives Minnesota a 36% chance of making the playoffs. Keep in mind that Minnesota’s next three games are at home. They play the Cowboys, Panthers, and the Jaguars. These are winnable games, folks.

The Offense

  1. Kirk Cousins didn’t get much help last night. As we previously mentioned, Kyle Rudolph had the fumble and Adam Thielen should be credited with Cousins’ INT. Nevertheless, Cousins remained poised throughout the game. Overall, Gary Kubiak did a really nice job. It was surprising to see how many times Kubiak opted to have Cousins throw from an empty backfield, and quite often it worked. Per PFF, Cousins went 10/11 for 149 yards and two touchdowns on third down. Cousins was clutch; he has reason to sing.
  2. Dalvin Cook had a solid, workmanlike performance. Coming off of consecutive monstrous games, Cook’s 30 carries for 96 yards feels underwhelming. Nevertheless, the game plan obviously called for continued efforts to run the ball. Cook made the most out of a tough matchup.
  3. How much more can be said about Justin Jefferson? Jefferson turned ten targets into eight catches for 135 yards. The Bears didn’t have an answer for him.
  4. Kyle Rudolph was a YAC monster last night. His solid effort after the catch ended up being really big as the game continued.
  5. Cousins completed a pass to seven different receivers. Minnesota’s offense should always have this sort of balance, especially since Irv Smith Jr. was on the sidelines. Perhaps the only concern is that Cook had so many carries. The Vikings would be wise to incorporate Alexander Mattison more.

The Defense

  1. The Bears’ offense is bad, so we shouldn’t overreact. Even still, Zimmer’s side of the ball allowed six points. Cordarrelle Patterson accounted for around half of Chicago’s points with his kickoff return TD. Otherwise, Zimmer allowed two field goals. On the road. Against a divisional opponent. With around a dozen injuries on defense.
  2. Hercules Mata’afa is turning into a strong option at DE. Take a look at the video below. Eric Wilson is rightly getting some praise, but Mata’afa was right there. He had several QB pressures and also some big run stops.
  3. Speaking of young, promising d-linemen, D.J. Wonnum continued his impressive rookie season. He had a sack and a TFL in this one.
  4. Jeff Gladney is making really great progress. As we’ve noted before, Gladney is an excellent tackler. He is improving in coverage, and may end up being a great option in the slot as he moves forward with his career.
  5. Minnesota’s defense will need to continue their ascent for the playoff push to continue. Getting healthy will go a long way in helping this squad, especially in the secondary. All things considered, Kris Boyd has done a really nice job this year.

Special Teams

  1. We’re still preaching patience with K.J. Osborn, but last night’s game was another underwhelming effort. Juggling the ball on punt return was nerve-racking, to say the least.
  2. Marwan Maalouf may be out of a job soon. Austin Cutting had another bad snap. Dan Chisena continues to over pursue. Dan Bailey and Britton Colquitt appear frustrated. Zimmer has never been known as a patient coach, so we’ll see if any news emerges today about Maalouf.

There is still plenty to work on, but the Vikings have a legit shot at making the playoffs. That’s far more than we could have said heading into the bye. Enjoy the win, Vikings fans.

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