Monday, May 22, 2017

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Eric Kendricks
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The Minnesota Vikings advanced another week and remained undefeated, and with a 4-0 record they have two more wins to their name than any other NFC North opponent, and the early success gives even the most reasonable expectation of a post-season appearance.

They still have to square off against their NFC North foes in five more contests, however, and considering three of those games will be away from the home-field hospitality of U.S. Bank Stadium it is certainly worth keeping a watchful eye on our closest enemies.

The Vikings have a +10 turnover differential so far in 2016. The defense is fearsome at their worst and downright devastating at their best. The offense continues to play efficiently enough to win and take care of the football, while signs of progression give us hope that things can get better in the near-enough future.

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In this week’s episode, we give Odell Beckham Jr. a pacifier, thank Norv Turner for watching the show, and make a few suggestions for the offense. That, plus predicting the outcome of the Texans game and the Somewhat Random Player who will score a touchdown this week.

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And an even better cornerback

Xavier Rhodes is a Bad Man
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Jerick McKinnon finally broke free on the ground. The offensive line finally protected Sam Bradford. Cordarrelle Patterson finally flashed his first round talent.

Plenty went right for the Minnesota Vikings’ offense on Monday night, but it was defense that once again carried the team to victory. And no player was more critical to the win than Xavier Rhodes, who is quickly becoming Mike Zimmer’s ‘Weapon X’ in this bullying defense.

Following a shutdown performance in Week 3 — holding Kelvin Benjamin to zero catches — Rhodes one-upped his season debut by completely eliminating New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Monday night. He set the tone from the first whistle, using his physicality (and his jaw) to crack Beckham’s psyche.

The receiver lashed out, launching himself at Rhodes and focusing more on the matchup than his team’s success. The result? A three-catch, 23-yard outing that did little to help New York’s chances in Week 4. His second quarter unsportsmanlike penalty stalled an early Giants’ drive, and his route running error later in the game led to an easy Rhodes interception.

Rhodes bullied Beckham, but his dominant display was simply an extension of Zimmer’s defensive approach. All three levels of a defense work together, from a relentless pass rush to smothering coverage down the field. Their sustained success breeds confidence, which is evident on every sack, turnover, and tackle for loss.

That confidence has grown, allowing Zimmer’s defense to impose its will throughout this 4-0 stretch. With his size, Rhodes knew he could do just that against Beckham. It was his words that made the difference.

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Xavier Rhodes NY Giants Oct 2016
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The Vikings Week Four “Player of the Game” Award voting is below.

A hot start has the Vikings sitting pretty with a 4-0 record and a defense that could end up being one of the best in franchise history if the keep going. Monday night’s 24-10 victory over the New York Giants is just the fourth chapter in what is a long and grueling regular season, but I don’t think this is a novel anybody wants to set down.

The evening featured plenty of spectacular plays and individual performances, but we are here to narrow it down to one guy – that one special guy – that is awarded the “Player of the Game” award by you fine readers of Vikings Territory.

So far this season, you all have voted these honors to the following players:

WEEK ONE: Eric Kendricks

WEEK TWO: Sam Bradford

WEEK THREE: Everson Griffen

Now, before we move forward, I just want to make a quick note. It is quite possible that this week’s award truly belong to that home crowd. I know the noise cost the Giants a chance at three points on that opening drive and the crowd was relentless for the whole evening. I’m really excited about what appears to be a new level of home-field advantage U.S. Bank Stadium gives our team and I applaud those fans that are helping to maximize the effect. Keep it up!

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Five(ish) thoughts from the Vikings win over the Giants.

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1. I’m trying not to get too giddy.

At 4-0, with what this team has been through, it’s hard not to let the joy flow hysterically, running down the street and high-fiving strangers and yelling about how football is a great sport and life is indeed fair. It’s been a heck of a start. The best thing I can say about the 2016 Vikings is they don’t seem like a Vikings team. This is a sincere endorsement and a point of admiration.

As Vikings fans, we’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop. No matter how good things look, we’ve been burned enough times to know that it will somehow end in agony, and thus it’s hard to fully enjoy even the best of times when we’re constantly looking over our collective shoulder. It’s a terrible way to live, but I’m hoping—hoping, gang—that this particular group will finally, mercifully, be different.

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