Thursday, March 23 2023

The Minnesota Vikings have the second-best record in football. Few would say they are the second-best team.

At 7-1, the Vikes have an enormous 4.5-game lead in the NFC North and a 1.5-game lead for the No. 2 seed in the NFC. But is their record misleading?

Minnesota in Week 1 took down a Green Bay Packers team that is 3-6 and struggling to manufacture offense. After losing to the still unbeaten Philadelphia Eagles, the Vikings have won six in a row. And here’s who they’ve beaten: the Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears, Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals and Washington Commanders.

Each victory was a one-score game and five involved losing teams. The lone contest against a winning team — the Dolphins — was played without starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa

On Tuesday’s edition of “The Carton Show,” FOX Sports NFL Analyst Greg Jennings, who spent two seasons with Minnesota, pushed back on the notion that the Vikings are a bona fide Super Bowl contender, specifically because of Kirk Cousins‘ inconsistency.

“He’s very accurate, [but] he has no special talent,” Jennings said. “He gets it done all the time in regular-season games, daytime games. Prime-time games, playoffs, that’s where I need to see it. I got to see it. I’m not convinced.”

Cousins has led Minnesota to the postseason just once in his four completed seasons with the club. His teams have won just one of his three career playoff starts. 

“When you compete, the more of a competitor you are, it’s like, ‘I got to get this. I want to shine the brightest. I want to be who and what everybody talks about,’” Jennings continued. “Kirk, it’s almost like ‘I just don’t want to mess it up.’ And it shows, and he doesn’t show up.”

Through eight games in 2022, Cousins has totaled 1,999 passing yards (13th in NFL), 13 passing touchdowns (tied for ninth), six interceptions (tied for seventh-most) and an 89.5 quarterback rating (13th) while completing 64.8% of his passes (13th). His completion percentage and 89.5 passer rating are both low marks for his Vikings tenure. 

That’s in spite of the fact Minnesota receivers have a drop rate of 5.7% (ninth-lowest in the NFL). The passing game has severely relied on Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, who account for 1,285 of the team’s 2,032 receiving yards this season.

With scoring down across the league, the Vikings rank higher (eighth, 24.1 PPG) than they have in over a decade despite generating fewer points per game than in their previous three seasons. Defensively, they’re surrendering 20.1 points (12th) per game. Minnesota is one of just three teams to rank in the top 12 in both categories (Philadelphia, Buffalo). 

If the Vikings aren’t considered serious contenders yet, they can change that narrative over the next two weeks as they face the Bills on the road and the Dallas Cowboys at home.

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Source: FOX Sports


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