Reports are that Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer placed a call to his starting quarterback, Kirk Cousins, a day after the team’s Week 11 loss to the Bears and asked if the offensive schemes were too complicated. It was a genuine question, not one meant to belittle the veteran signal caller, and one intended to right the ship going forward. Cousins was not offended, placed the blame for his two pick performance squarely on his own shoulders, and stated that the play-calling was fine but he needed to execute better.
True or false, it’s exactly what a head coach would want to hear from his star quarterback and the results from Sunday’s 24-17 win over the Packers demonstrated that Cousins is more than capable of rebounding from a poor performance. The NFL odds from all the best online sportsbooks showed that the Vikings were four-point favorites and when the dust settled, Cousins had tossed for 342 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions or lost fumbles, allowing those backing the home favorite to cash a ticket. Cousins’ success was also due to his offensive line keeping the Packers pass rush at bay and providing clean pockets and clear sailing en route to a crucial victory over a fierce divisional rival.
Prior to the Week 12 win, Zimmer also had concerns that his charges were tuning him out and wondered aloud if he had lost the locker room.
“I’ve asked several players if they’re listening to me or not or if they quit listening to me,’’ Zimmer said. “I didn’t ask them, ‘Did you?’ but, ‘Did these guys stop listening to me?’ And they said no.’’
Perhaps one area that allowed the offense to flow freely was a much more balanced attack and a commitment to the run. In their 25-20 loss to the Bears, Cousins had 46 pass attempts to just 14 carries from his backfield. Contrast that with 38 passing attempts to 29 carries and we can clearly see that Green Bay, unlike Chicago the previous week, could not key exclusively on Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. And this is why the play-action worked as illustrated by Cousins connecting on 7-of-9 for 124 yards and two touchdowns in those situations.
As we look forward, we see that the Vikings have one of their sternest tests of the season on tap next week when they visit the New England Patriots in Foxboro. As of this early writing, the odds board is reflecting Tom Brady and the perennial Super Bowl contenders as anywhere from 6 ½ to 7 point favorites. Things don’t get too much easier the following week as Minnesota must pack up and head to Seattle to face a Seahawks crew that is also in a death struggle to maintain their playoff aspirations after notching consecutive wins over Green Bay and Carolina, with what looks like an easy win over the 49ers in Week 13.
Minnesota’s path to the playoffs will be paved with a stop in Detroit sandwiched around home dates against Miami and Chicago. However, word has leaked out of a possible season-ending hamstring injury to Pro Bowl cornerback Xavier Rhodes while he attempted to cover Davante Adams on a 36-yard pass completion in Sunday night’s victory over the Packers. Losing Rhodes would be a huge blow to the secondary and a pass defense that ranks fifth in the league, allowing just 221 passing yards per game. The Vikings will face the likes of Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford, and Mitchell Trubisky in four of their five remaining games so Rhodes’ absence could have a deleterious effect on the chances of copping a postseason berth.
So stay tuned for more and anytime you’re curious about the NFL odds on the Vikings, or any other team, turn to the one source that illustrates what all the best online sportsbooks are offering, Sportsbook Review.