Vikings Winners and Losers — Week 8
After a break of one week due to the scheduled bye week, the Vikings came back and took care of business. The scoreboard showed a 34-26 victory over Arizona Cardinals after the final whistle. It always felt like the Vikings were in control of the game.
The 6-1 start is the best since the 2009 season, and the Vikings are in the midst of a season that can turn out a very special one. Who were some winners and losers of the Week 8 matchup?
The Cardinals drafted the star cornerback in the top 10 of the 2011 draft, and he had a wonderful career in Arizona. In his final year as a Cardinal, he seemed to clearly have lost a step, and he became a free agent. The Cardinals had no interest in bringing him back, and he signed with the Vikings because he wanted to play for Mike Zimmer.
Fast forward one year, and he was once again a free agent. Peterson’s performance in his first year was solid but not like his prime. He once again agreed to a one-year deal in Minnesota, even after the regime change. This time, he would not make $10 million, but only $4 million. The salary reduction obviously had to do with the demand he was getting on the open market. Cornerbacks usually don’t get better at age 32.
Peterson was active in the run defense and locked down receivers all game long. Three pass breakups on just five targets are an incredible number. He’s turning back the clock and looks a lot like his former self, the elite lockdown cornerback.
The left tackle is an All-Pro candidate. That’s all that is to be said about the second-year player. He’s regularly putting NFL players on the ground and dominates most reps.
PFF credited him with one pressure given up. However, his performance in the running game was outstanding. His opponent is basically not playing a role in a running play. It’s like the opposing defense is just playing with ten defenders. Most folks expected a step forward in his second year, but not that he could be that dominant this early in his career.
The big-name free-agent signing is turning out to be a steal. Green Bay waived him after a nearly complete missed season due to back problems. His cap hit on the Packers is actually higher than on the Vikings in 2022. Vikings fans knew what he could do since he dominated Riley Reiff in a 2019 matchup that clinched the division for the Packers. He had 3.5 sacks that day.
Smith is currently leading the league in sacks with 8.5, and the game against the Cardinals was outstanding. He came away with three sacks against Kyler Murray and made vital contributions in the running game. The edge duo of Hunter and Smith was supposed to be scary, and they are slowly becoming a nightmare for offenses.
After a great training camp and preseason, the kicker entered the season with high expectations. He hit a 58-yarder in the preseason, a kick that would’ve been the longest in Vikings history if it happened in the regular season. However, among qualified kickers, Joseph is last in field goal percentage and extra point percentage. The field goals are actually understandable because all five misses came from tries of 50 yards or longer.
More concerning are the three missed extra points. Those should be easy makes. Against the Cardinals, Joseph missed an extra point that would’ve put the Vikings up nine points and probably clinched the game. However, the Cardinals were still in the game because of the miss. He also missed a 56-yard field goal to end the first half by hitting a Cardinals player on the helmet. It never had a chance.
The right guard is a regular player on this list this season. He had another ‘Welcome to the NFL’ moment against JJ Watt, as he had no chance to keep a veteran as talented and intelligent as Watt in front of him. Ingram gave up two sacks, six pressures, and a penalty.
While he is a good run blocker, his pass protection is alarming. The Vikings have to consider benching him for veteran Chris Reed. Rookies are always expected to struggle early in their careers, but this level of play could cost the Vikings wins. Ingram has to go up against a strong Commanders’ defensive line next. He has given up an among guards league-leading 27 pressures in just seven games.
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Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt