This season has been disappointing, to say the least. The Vikings have yet to beat a good team and seem to keep making the same mistakes in big games.
There’s no game bigger than the one this weekend at CenturyLink Field, though.
Right now, the Vikings sit just inside the playoff picture, just a half game ahead of Carolina, Philadelphia and Washington. With a loss this weekend, though, they’ll likely fall out of the top six and will need help to regain a spot in the playoffs. Another loss will also probably spell the end of their fading NFC North title hopes.
All hope isn’t lost though, despite what Bears fans would like you to think. This might be the last chance to say this for the season, but the Vikings can still turn it around, and they have all the pieces to do it. Kirk Cousins has shown he can play at an elite level, while Dalvin Cook looks like he’s finally hitting his stride. If John DeFilippo can figure it out, the offense should be fine.
Defensively, Minnesota has the sixth-ranked defense and is still great on third down. The numbers are down from last year, sure, but all the players (save for Andrew Sendejo) are still around, and Sheldon Richardson wasn’t there a season ago. Injuries are a huge problem in the secondary, but if guys can get healthy the Vikings still have a shot to compete in the playoffs.
Obviously ‘still have a shot’ doesn’t mean it’ll actually happen. And time is running out for the guys in purple to turn it around.
Eric will have his full preview later this week, but a quick look at the Seahawks reveals they’re starting to peak at the right time. They played the Rams close twice, have won three straight and are in prime position to grab one of the NFC Wild Card spots. Russell Wilson is playing at an elite level. And they’re also very hard to beat at home, no matter how they’re playing.
It’s not time to panic yet, but you do have to be concerned about the Vikings’ schedule, and, like I wrote a couple weeks ago, the fact that they still haven’t won a game against a team with a winning record. The Bears lost on Sunday and the Vikings had a prime opportunity to play themselves back into contention, but they faltered against a Patriots team that looked beatable.
Put simply, Minnesota can not afford to lose this game. To miss the playoffs in a season that started with Super Bowl aspirations would be catastrophic. I’m not gonna go there yet, though. It’s not close to being over, if the Vikings can find a way to win on Monday.
The Vikings gave Kirk Cousins $84 million for this exact situation. To go into hostile territory, with your back against the wall, and find a way to win. This will be his first real test, and our first real opportunity to evaluate Rick Spielman’s decision. Let’s hope it was the right one.