Explained: 7 Big Things to Follow in Commanders-Vikings
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This is Episode 155 of VikesNow, a YouTube channel devoted to daily Minnesota Vikings analysis. This examines storylines for the Vikings in Week 9.
Particularly, James Lynch, Kirk Cousins, and the Vikings defense, among other items, are discussed.
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 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).