Explained: Surprising NFL Items from Week 8 and 9
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This is Episode 154 of VikesNow, a YouTube channel devoted to daily Minnesota Vikings analysis. This examines leaguewide happenings around the NFL in Weeks 8 and 9.
Particularly, the Packers, Rams, and Buccaneers struggles are discussed, as well as other items from both conferences.
Email any feedback — especially constructive criticism — to DustinBakerNFL@gmail.com.
The Vikings knocked off the Arizona Cardinals in Week 8, 34-26, courtesy of a sweltering Vikings pass rush led by Za’Darius Smith. The Vikings offense was also consistent and avoided in-game naps that have plagued the team for most of 2022.
Wide receiver Justin Jefferson recorded 6 catches, 98 receiving yards, and no touchdowns in a game that felt ho-hum for the Vikings playmaker. But that’s just the norm now for Jefferson — 98 receiving yards is “no big deal.” Dalvin Cook fired up his first 100-yard rushing game since Week 14 of 2021. Alexander Mattison, Kirk Cousins, and Cook all scored rushing touchdowns.
The Vikings are early 3.5-point road favorites against the Washington Commanders in Week 9, a team that has won three straight games. Washington downed the Sam Ehlinger-led Indianapolis Colts, 17-16, on Sunday.
The Green Bay Packers also dropped a fourth game in a row, sinking Aaron Rodgers’ team to 3-5, with an unspeakable 3.5-game deficit in the NFC North to Minnesota. The Vikings are the No. 2 seed in the NFC behind the Philadelphia Eagles and would host a home playoff game if the playoffs started today.
Ed Donatell’s defense continues to embrace the ultimate bend-don’t-break philosophy, curiously ranking 28th in yards allowed but 14th in points allowed. This is probably just “the way it is” for the 2022 Vikings defense — spotty throughout most games but rising with victory in its grasp.
A 4-6 record the rest of the way would plop the Vikings in the postseason. Of course, winning the division is preferred, but subpar football the rest of the way, as a worst-case scenario, would net a playoff berth. That’s the perk of a 6-1 start. The Vikings could likely even finish 3-7 and still sneak in as a wildcard.
Taylor Heinicke will lead the Commanders on Sunday, who started his NFL career with the Vikings. The aforementioned Cousins makes his first trip to Washington as a visiting player. Newcomer tight end T.J. Hockenson is also likely to see action.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).