Former Viking Has Chance to Do the Thing

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He didn’t totally set the world on fire on Saturday, but his team is heading to the AFC Championship.

He’s Dalvin Cook, and through six NFL seasons, he’s never played in a conference championship — until this weekend. If that showdown is favorable to the Ravens, Cook has a chance to do the thing and play in the Super Bowl in three weeks.

Former Viking Has Chance to Do the Thing

Cook’s Baltimore Ravens outdueled the upstart Houston Texans last weekend, 34-10, in a game that felt closer than the final score indicated. After a punt return touchdown by Houston in the 1st Half, it seemed the Ravens had their hands full with C.J. Stroud and Co., but the threat diminished and died in the 2nd Half.

Former Viking Has Chance
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Along the way, Cook snagged some late-game playing time in his first contest with the other purple team. Cook fired up this one big play before mop-up work on the Ravens’ final possession:

Cook finished with 8 carries and 23 rushing yards — which isn’t very good — but he got his feet wet in Baltimore’s offense and could experience more carries on Sunday when the Ravens host the dynastic Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas City survived the Buffalo Bills on the road, thanks to a mind-boggling missed field goal by Bills kicker Tyler Bass on Sunday night.

After mutually agreeing to part ways with the New York Jets, Cook joined the Ravens practice squad. Baltimore elevated Cook from the practice squad to the gameday roster two days before Ravens-Texans, and it could do the same versus the Chiefs.

Have Zeroed
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Cook originally joined the Jets in August, back when New York was a true-blue Super Bowl contender. But soon after the regular season kicked off, Cook wasn’t quite the same playmaker from 2020 or 2021, and New York quickly granted a larger carry load to Breece Hall, not Cook. Quarterback Aaron Rogers was injured four plays into the regular season with a torn Achilles, the same injury that beset Vikings signal-caller Kirk Cousins in October.

The veteran tailback lasted on the free-agent wire for a few minutes following the Jets divorce. Behind the San Francisco 49ers, the Ravens are favored to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in February, and Cook will provide trustworthy depth. John Harbaugh’s team has endured oodles of injury at running back in 2023, losing J.K. Dobbins and Keaton Mitchell to season-ending injuries. So, in the postseason, the more RB depth, the better.

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Cook left the Vikings as the franchise’s third-leading rusher in franchise history (5,993 yards) behind Adrian Peterson (11,747) and Robert Smith (6,818). His 47 rushing touchdowns rank fourth behind Peterson (97), Chuck Foreman (52), and Bill Brown (52). And his rushing yards per game (82.1) are second, only trailing Peterson (95.5).

The Vikings released Cook last June because he was in line for a $14 million cap hit in 2023 — too much for a running back and for one that proved in New York that his Pro Bowl days were over.

Another Nugget Enters
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The Ravens also employ former Vikings defensive tackle Michael Pierce (DT), Laquon Treadwell (WR, PS), and Dan Chisena (WR, PS).

Baltimore is an early 3.5-point home favorite to topple the Chiefs.

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 Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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