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The Vikings had a chance to take control of the NFC North. As has been their trademark through their painful history, they didn’t.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings had everything to play for on Sunday Night against the Bears. First place in the NFC North was on the line, losses by Carolina and Washington earlier in the day set things up perfectly for a big shake-up in the NFC playoff picture, and most importantly, Minnesota had a chance to make a statement to the rest of the NFL in primetime.

Instead, the Vikes still looked like they were on a bye as they slept walked through a thorough dressing down by the Chicago Bears, and the 25-20 score wasn’t as close as indicated. With the win, the Bears are now the prohibitive favorite to win the NFC North, and the Vikings find themselves in a dogfight for a wildcard berth. On a night when the Vikings could have made a statement by beating the Bears in Chicago, instead they reinforced every negative stereotype fans and detractors have had about this franchise for over 50 years. And it makes me want to Shout, doesn’t it, Tears For Fears?

Shout, shout, let it all out

These are the things I can do without

Come on - I’m talking to you

Come on

And when you’ve taken down your guard

If I could change your mind

I’d really like to break your Heart

(I’d really like to break your Heart)

Shout, shout, let it all out

These are the things I can do without

Come on - I’m talking to you

Come on

Shout, shout, let it all out

These are the things I can do without

Come on - I’m talking to you

Come on

The SMR that should never be flexed to primetime ever again follows.

Blue Chips

Anthony Harris, S: Harris had two interceptions and no missile hits into his own guys. Start Harris, even when Sendejo gets healthy.

Stefon Diggs, WR: 13 catches, 126 yards, and one TD helped keep false hope alive longer than it should have.

Solid Investments:

Adam Thielen, WR: Thielen had a decent night, with 7 catches for 66 yards, and he went over 1,000 yards on the season, which ties Randy Moss for the earliest a Vikings WR had gone over 1,000 yards in a season. Cool and all that, but it’s yet another moral victory the Vikings can put on the wall to replace the real trophies this team has been sorely lacking for over 50 years.

Junk Bonds:

Kirk Cousins: Sorry, but when you’re paid $84 million dollars, you’re within one score to tie the game in the fourth quarter, and you throw a pick six to essentially end the game? You’re a junk bond. Add that in to a pretty mediocre three quarters preceding that, and this seems pretty cut and dried.

The offensive line: Not every sack Kirk Cousins took was his fault, as his offensive line failed him in a way we haven’t seen since Hue Jackson coached Cleveland. The Vikings better address the offensive line, in a meaningful way in the off-season, or what we’ll see next year is what we’ve seen for the better part of the last three years.

Dalvin Cook: nine carries, 12 yards. Lutefisk isn’t as terrible as this.

Buy/Sell:

Buy: This team can still make the playoffs. Sure, as a number five or six seed. That’s pretty awesome, as nothing gets me more fired up than an underperforming Vikings team hitting the road for the NFC playoffs. Because, you know, that’s always worked out well in the past. LET’S RIDE THE LIGHTNING BABY WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

Sell: This team can win the Super Bowl. The Vikings didn’t pay Kirk Cousins $84 million to be a five or six seed in the NFC playoffs, and probably go one and done. And they’re just not consistent enough for me to have faith in them to go all the way. This season, and the 57 previous or whatever it is, are on my side here.

Buy: The Kirk Cousins TD passes to Stefon Diggs and Aldrick Robinson. The throws to Diggs and Robinson in the fourth quarter were things of beauty, and it was why the Vikings signed Cousins. 14 fourth quarter points are generally enough to overcome a deficit and win a football game.

Sell: The TD pass that Kirk Cousins missed to Stefon Diggs, and the pick six. In the first quarter, on the Vikings first drive, Cousins missed a wide open Diggs in the end zone that would have put the Vikings up 7-0 early, and might have changed the outcome of the game. It’s a throw Cousins doesn’t usually miss, but yeah, Soldier Field, where fuckery abounds, so whatever. I hate that place. And his fourth quarter pick six was just inexcusable. It was a throw that was borderline Christian Ponder-esque, and there was no excuse for that throw at that point in the game.

Buy: The VIkings have a good head coach. I firmly believe Mike Zimmer is the third best coach in Vikings history. It’s Bud Grant, Dennis Green, and Zimmer. He took a moribund defense and turned them into a fearsome unit, has won the NFC North twice in three years with a still-realistic chance to win it again this year, and got to the NFC Championship last year.

Sell: The Vikings coaching staff had the team prepared to play. In his post game press conference, Mike Zimmer said something alarming:

From the sleepwalking through over three quarters, to the stupid 15 yard personal foul penalties, to the Vikings looking completely unprepared to play with two weeks to prepare, it’s fair to call Mike Zimmer’s leadership into question tonight. I’m not saying the Vikings need to fire him, not even close. But there needs to be some accountability for this, and there is no excuse for the way Minnesota played, especially coming out of the bye.

For a team that had upgraded at key positions and was a near unanimous preseason favorite to win the division, they are woefully underforming 10 weeks into the season. Whether you want to put some blame on OC John DeFilippo, or lay it at the feet of Mike Zimmer, there’s a disconnect between the coaching staff and the players that seems to be growing, not shrinking.

So, the Vikings fall a game and a half out of first place, and now the Packers game at home next Sunday, also in primetime, takes on added importance. There’s no more room for error, and the Vikings are looking at three tough games in the coming weeks they must win to try to keep pace with, and hopefully overcome the Bears.

Good luck with that.