Vikings Survive and Thrive in NFC North

Watch Vikings Territory Breakdown: Joe Ober and Mark Craig

The Minnesota Vikings came home from London and played a very good half of football against the visiting Chicago Bears until (presumably) the jet lag kicked in—forcing them to hold on for a 29-22 victory. The win vaulted them to 4-1 and solo possession of first place in the NFC North. That is great news, no mistake, but there is plenty for us to be concerned about given the Vikings’ penchant for close, one-score football games.

But at least they are coming out on the right side of those games.

Last season, the Vikings were 1-3 in last play deciding games, but now this season they are 3-0 in them the past three weeks. Those wins can mean the difference when it comes to making the postseason or not. Last year they lost out. Perhaps this year the wins will propel them forward. But only if they can clean up some issues that have reared their ugly head.

Number one on the list is playing well for 60 minutes. The Vikings came out like gangbusters against the Bears and built a quick and dominating 21-3 lead, with great execution on both sides of the ball. But then the Bears put up 19 unanswered points until the Vikings pulled out of their doldrums and put together a winning touchdown drive to win the game. Of course, the defense was on the verge of giving it back to the Bears until Cam Dantzler pulled the ball out of the hands of his former teammate, Ihmir Smith-Marsette and iced the game. It was an exciting and heads-up play by the defense, but it may just serve to mask other issues.

The Vikings have to tighten up their defense. They have to get more consistent play throughout the game from quarterback Kirk Cousins (who set a Vikings record for starting the game 17 for 17 and then threw a late-game interception on a very bad read—that nearly jeopardized the win). They have to shore up some cracks that are starting to appear in their Special Teams vessel. And they have to start acting like a team that can put away teams they are more talented than. That is the only way to make it to the post-season and do some damage.

So, we (myself, Joe Oberle from VikingsTerritory and purplePTSD, and Mark Craig from the Star Tribune and startribune.com) are here to break it down for you. The Vikings Territory Breakdown podcast fellas will point a sharp-focused lens on the current Vikings situation. Tune in and check out where we think the Purple will go next.

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