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NFL: Minnesota Vikings at New York Jets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

After an up and down start, the Minnesota Vikings had found a little bit of momentum with a modest two game winning streak heading to New York to face the Jets. And if we’re being honest, today was a bit of a microcosm of the Vikings season so far. They had a strong first drive, then struggled, then found their sea legs in the second half and managed to pull away. After three straight wins, the Vikings find themselves alone in first place in the NFC North at 4-2-1, and I think it’s safe to say that Minnesota is back in a groove. And thanks to the Jets, it’s a New York Groove, isn’t that right, Mr. Frehley?

In the back of my Cadillac

A wicked lady, sittin’ by my side, sayin’ “Where are we?”

We’re at Met Life in Jersey, Darnold threw three picks

It was ecstacy, this place was meant for me

(Ooh) Thielen...so good tonight

(Ooh) Who cares about tomorrow

So baby, you’d better believe

I’m back, back in the New York Groove

I’m back, back in the New York Groove

I’m back, back in the New York Groove

Back in the New York Groove, in the New York Groove

The Stock Market Report that doesn’t try to write into the wind follows.

Blue Chips

Matt Wile, P: Matt Wile was an absolute weapon today. Wile punted eight times, for an average of almost 48 yards, but that only tells part of the story. On a day where field position was a big part of the game due to the prevailing winds, this is what Wile managed to do in terms of flipping field position:

Vikings 1 to Jets 36 (seriously are you kidding me and good lord Kirk you almost took a safety there what was that)

Vikings 40 to Jets 14

Vikings 40 to Jets 7

Vikings 16 to Jets 42, which resulted in a Jets fumble

Jets 43 to Jets 16

Vikings 35 to Jets 20

Vikings 26 to Jets 8 (seriously are you kidding me)

Vikings 20 to Jets 43

Other than the last punt, Wile absolutely crushed it today. On a day when the Vikings special teams played a key role in determining the outcome, Wile played a key role in keeping the Jets behind the curve, almost all afternoon.

Adam Thielen, WR: Ho hum, Thielen just continues to be the best wide receiver in the NFL with another 110 yards receiving and a touchdown on the Vikings first drive. Wanna hit Thielen deep for a score? Okay. Toe tap on the sideline? Sure. First down? Okay, fine. Mistake him for Brandon Zylstra, yet another undrafted wide receiver from Minnesota? Sure, cool, they’re interchangeable, I guess. All Thielen has done is prove, week in and week out, that he’s not only the best WR in the NFL, he’s also a serious MVP candidate.

Harrison Smith, S: The Hitman had another big game, as he broke up two passes and had a big interception and ensuing return for 50 yards.

Stephen Weatherly, DE: When the news about Everson Griffen broke, Vikings fans were justifiably worried about depth behind him. Weatherly has allayed those fears with yet another strong game today. He had a tackle for loss...and a pass defended, which was awesome...and he’s really stepped up in Griff’s absence. And it’s not that I’m looking towards next year or anything, but consider this: Griff has a cap hit of $11.9 million next year, with only $1.9 million in dead cap money. Griff is better than Weatherly, but the Vikings defense isn’t really hurting with Griff out. I want him back, and over the second half of the year a healthy Griffen and Danielle Hunter would be ridiculously formidable, but don’t be surprised if the Vikes ask Ev to take a pay cut next year.

Solid Investments

Latavius Murray, RB: I’m going back and forth on whether or not to make Murray a blue chip or solid investment. On one hand, he had two touchdown runs in the second half, and helped to put the game out of reach. On the other hand, Murray and the Vikings running game disappeared for the better part of the second and third quarters, and the game was a lot closer for a lot longer than it should have been. Was it Murray’s fault? What the heck, let’s put it to a vote down below. You tell me if I’m being too harsh or not.

Danielle Hunter, DE: One of the reasons the Vikings might seriously look at Weatherly over Griffen next year is because they may have the heir apparent to Griffen in Hunter. He had another sack today, and lost in the 100 yard game streak Thielen has is that Hunter has a sack in each of the Vikings first seven games...much like Everson Griffen last year.

Pat Elflein, C: I’ll admit I didn’t watch Pat Elflein the entire game, and I don’t know and I don’t care what his PFF rating was. When I did notice him, though, it was when Latavius Murray made a big play. And that play was made possible when Elflein moved his guy into another area code. Also, Elf was the only football thing from OSU to do anything worthwhile this weekend (h/t Eric Thompson) (Purdue just scored again).

Holton Hill, CB: Depth is a wonderful thing. When Xavier Rhodes went down, the game still hung in the balance, and the game took an ominous turn when X-Man limped off the field, unable to put much pressure on his leg. So Hill picked up the entire team by picking off a Darnold throw the first play he was in the game for.

Junk Bonds

John DeFilippo, OC: This is a bit of a tough call for me, because the VIkings rolled up over 300 yards of offense and 24 of their points in essentially two quarters. But between those bookend quarters, the Vikings offense was absolutely horrid, and Flip’s play calling was mystifyingly obtuse.

Injuries. It’s been a bad year for injuries again, and the Vikings potentially lost two big guys on defense in Anthony Barr and Xavier Rhodes. Injuries can die in a fire and get impaled by Vlad Dracul for all I care.

Buy/Sell

Buy: First and fourth quarter Kirk Cousins. The Vikings first drive was a thing of beauty. Four plays, 68 yards, and capped by a 34 yard TD reception by Adam Thielen. In the fourth quarter he led two TD drives, and had a savage 34 yard TD strike to Aldrick Robinson on fourth down, which other than a Victory formation kneel down, was the last drive the Vikings had in the game.

Sell: Second and third quarter Kirk Cousins. But my goodness, the Vikings and Cousins did next to nothing the middle 30 minutes of the football game. Fortunately, the Vikings defense prevented the Jets offense from doing much of anything, and it didn’t become as glaring an issue as it could have been. But for as incredible as Kirk Cousins has been for the Vikings this season, other than the Bills game, that was the worst he has played since signing with the Purple and Gold back in the Spring.

Buy: The Vikings special teams creating field position and turnover opportunities. We talked about Matt Wile above, and the Vikings special teams as a whole had the Jets on their heels all day. Deep kickoffs by Dan Bailey and solid punt returns by Marcus Sherels continually set the Vikings up in favorable field position for a majority of the game.

Sell: The Vikings not taking advantage of those opportunities. Yet, Minnesota rarely capitalized on those opportunities. Jayvon Kearse had an opportunity to recover a fumble inside the Jets 10, and was out muscled for the ball. The Jets muffed a punt near their goal line, yet the Vikings had no rush on and missed a golden opportunity to either block a punt or tackle the punter deep in Jets territory.

Buy: Vikings third down defense. Once again, the Minnesota Vikings defense was stifling on third down, only allowing the Jets to convert on two of 13 attempts. The Vikes defense throttled a really good Jets running game, and never really allowed New Jersey to get into much of a rhythm on offense.

Sell: Vikings third down offense. For as much as the Jets offense had issues getting untracked, so did the Vikes offense in many respects. It seems weird to call a 37-17 win close, but because of the inability of the offense to sustain a drive for the better part of the second and third quarters (they were also only 2-13 on third down), Minnesota found themselves up by only 10 points as the fourth quarter began, and the Jets had a legitimate opportunity to win the game.

Buy: Vikings putting the game away in the fourth quarter. The mark of a good team is that they can put away an inferior opponent and deliver the coup de grâce. Minnesota did that in the fourth quarter by scoring 17 points, fueled with touchdowns from Latavius Murray and Aldrick Robinson.

Sell: The Vikings put the game away by the end of the third quarter. As impressive as that ending was, you could argue the competitive phase of this game should have ended much earlier. Between the special teams not taking advantage of two golden opportunities, or two Jets turnovers at midfield or better only becoming field goals, Minnesota had the Jets on the ropes early and let them hang around a lot longer than they should have. It turned out to not matter in the end, but against a better team on a different day, it will be the difference between winning and losing.

So on a day when the good guys were a bubble off center for two quarters, they still managed to win by 20 points, on the road, against a team they had never beaten on the road in franchise history. With three straight wins, Minnesota has moved into first place in the NFC North, and with games against the New Orl [DIGGS, SIDELINE, TOUCHDOWN, VIKINGS WIN, UNBELIEVABLE]ints and the Lions before the break, they have a real opportunity to put some space between them and their division rivals before they hit their bye week.

Poll

What grade would you give Latavius Murray?

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    Blue chip
    (1098 votes)
  • 62%
    Solid Investment
    (2130 votes)
  • 0%
    Junk Bond
    (19 votes)
  • 5%
    Stop with these shameless polls to get clicks, Ted
    (186 votes)
3433 votes total Vote Now