VT Breakdown: Vikings Lay Down the Cards and They Read 6-1

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The Minnesota Vikings are 6-1—how does that feel? Are you loving it yet or are you smiling with your favorite beverage held in the air and then heading to the fridge for one more glass of liquid courage because you still aren’t sure what to make of it? Yeah, probably the latter. We all know what it’s like to be a Vikings fan—to have our preseason holes realized, our expectations given to rise and then our dreams dashed on the jagged shoreline of some foreign country called a championship. That’s okay. It’s part of the deal. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it along the way.

The Vikings beat the visiting Arizona Cardinals 34-26 on Sunday, and, yes, while it was another one-score victory that had fans gnashing their teeth throughout the fourth quarter, this one was just a little big different. It could be said the Cards were just a little bit better than some of the other teams the Vikings have beaten on their way to the top of the NFC North Division. Then again, Arizona was missing three of their starting offensive linemen and starting running back. Was it just more of catching a team at the right time and the same luck that saw with them missing an injured starting QB in Miami?

It’s hard to say, when it comes to the Vikings. They do enough to win but don’t do enough give us reason to believe this is just some typical Purple season where Lucy is waiting in the wings to pull the football away from that famous St. Paul athlete Charlie Brown. (Perhaps that is what is going on with Vikings place-kicker Greg Joseph, who missed another 56-yard field goal and an extra point that kept the Cards in it for that one-score loss.)

It’s hard to say. The Vikings defense, who were the big stars in this game (in my estimation), bent but didn’t break at the end. The Vikings offense were 5-for-5 in the Red Zone and scored more than 30 points for the first time this year, yet had two bad three-and-outs late that could have iced the game and cooled our fan frenzy for a moment. And the special team taketh away (recovering a muffed punt) and giveth back (those two missed kicks). So, we are never able to coast with this team, even though that would be nice.

But then where is the excitement in that? Winners of the playoffs and the Super Bowl are usually great teams that are dominant and crescendo-ing at the right time of the season. The Vikings, while putting together a very good record, appear, at times, like a team still learning their new offense, defense and coaches. There are missteps surrounded by great plays. There is bad communication followed by an incredible pass and catch from Kirk Cousins to K.J. Osborn. This team is still an enigma, at times, but also a hell of a lot fun to watch when each week they get your blood boiling.

At least that is how I am going to look at it. Until they prove to me that they can’t beat whomever they are scheduled to play each week (and that isn’t a request), I am along for the ride. And I will discuss it with my cohort Mark Craig from the Star Tribune on this week’s Vikings Territory Breakdown podcast. We will look at the five touchdowns the Vikings scored and the four sacks (three by Za’Darius Smith). And we will ask him if he is along for the ride, as well. Tune in and check it out.

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