Recapping Vikings Players to Watch vs. Cardinals
Another Sunday rolls by, and the Minnesota Vikings pick up another win, marching on to a 6-1 record. The Vikings exceed expectations as they continue proving they have found a winning formula. The games might be close every week, but you don’t win five in a row due to luck.
It might not have been the spectacular day I had hoped for the three Vikings players to watch I selected before Sunday’s game. However, they all had a positive impact on the game.
Patrick Peterson was certainly fired up for this one. He was a man on a mission against his former employers and played with a chip on his shoulder. The Vikings cornerback tallied four tackles and three pass deflections while putting together another solid display. Peterson has been better in his second season in Minnesota, and Pro Football Focus suggests he’s having his best season since 2018.
PFF gave the Vikings cornerback an overall grade of 81.0 for this game. That score moved his grade for the year up to 77.9. I expected Peterson to be a solid veteran on the outside for the Vikings defense this year. He’s proving to be much more than that by showing he still has the play-making skills to be a difference-maker. He might be 32 years old, but the suggestion that he might be the Vikings best defensive back holds a lot of validity.
He might not have been as chirpy as Peterson on the field, but the Vikings other former Cardinal, Jordan Hicks, was also fired up. He made six solo tackles and received the 4th-highest grade from PFF for a Vikings defender at 76.5 for this game. It was arguably Hicks’ best game as a Viking, the highlight of which was a big 4th-down stop late in the 4th quarter.
That 4th-down stop was synonymous with the Vikings season as different players continued to make critical plays at crucial times. I hoped the linebacker duo of Hicks and Eric Kendricks would improve in this new defensive system after the bye week. Hicks made a good start with this game.
It wasn’t quite the 100-yard receiving game that I predicted for Adam Thielen, but the veteran wide receiver had a solid outing. He caught 6 of 7 targets for 67 yards — perfectly acceptable production for a WR2 on a day when the Vikings dominated on the ground. Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, and Kirk Cousins combined for 173 rushing yards. At the same time, Thielen and the other receivers made big catches at crucial moments. He made some excellent grabs, including the one below that also led to a knee contusion. Despite the injury, he returned to the game and caught three more passes.
Thielen has some of the best hands in the business, so it should be no surprise that he leads the league in catches without a drop. I still think a huge game is coming for Thielen. However, this production level is good enough for a WR2 when you have as many offensive options as the Vikings.
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