Normally, I bring you the postgame recap via the Stock Market Report, which is regionally unpopular, nationally unknown, and IP banned in 41 countries. With no game to recap this past week, I decided I’d go back over the SMR’s so far this season, tally up who has done what, and sort of give us a season review to this point, and talk a little bit about the road ahead.
So since we’re at the interlude, what better time than to PLAY THIS DAMN SONG THAT I HOPE WILL NOW BE STUCK IN YOUR HEAD THE REST OF THE DAY BAH BAH BAHHHHHHH!!!
Where it began
I can’t begin to knowin’
But then I know it’s growing strong
Was in the spring
And spring became the summer
Who’d have believed you’d come along
Hands, touchin’ hands
Reachin’ out, touchin’ me, touchin’ youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu
Sweet Caroline (BAH BAH BAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH)
Good times never seemed so good (SO GOOD, SO GOOD, SO GOOD)
I’ve been inclined (BAH BAH BAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH)
To believe they never would
Heh, you’re welcome. You know you’re listening to this on your drive home now.
Your ‘I didn’t know what else to write on the bye week so I settled on this’ SMR follows.
Blue Chip Stocks
Dalvin Cook, RB, 7: Cook leading the way shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. He’s having a year on par with past running backs who have won the MVP award. Cook won’t win it over Lamar Jackson or Russell Wilson, nor am I saying he should, but I think it’s fair to at least consider his numbers before discounting him completely. He’s third in the NFL with 1,017 yards rushing, second in touchdowns with 11, and has another 455 yards receiving. When Cook plays well, the Vikings usually win. When he gets throttled, the Vikings usually lose.
Eric Kendricks, LB, 4: If Cook is the spark that makes the offense go, you could say the same for Kendricks on defense. He’s having the best year of his career, and has made one big play after another. Fans tend to focus on what’s wrong with the defense lately, but let’s not let the season Kendricks is having get lost in the noise.
Kirk Cousins, QB, 4: After an uneven start, Cousins has been on a tear. He won the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for October, won a couple prime time games, and led the Vikings on their big comeback against Denver.
Stefon Diggs, WR, 3: If there’s a ‘Turn Your Season Around’ award the team hands out annually, I’m going to stand on the table for Diggs. After the Vikings week four loss to the Bears, Diggs making his displeasure known seemed to be the catalyst that got the Vikings untracked. If you want to call him a diva, fine. I will maintain that he voiced his displeasure to get everyone’s attention, and it worked. He then went on a three game tear, going for over 140 yards in consecutive games against Philly, Detroit, and Washington, as the Vikings went from 2-2 to 8-3.
Harrison Smith, Anthony Barr, Danielle Hunter, Adam Thielen, and...Dan Bailey all have registered two blue chips this year, while five players, one position group (the offensive line), and two coaches (Keven Stefanski and Marwan Malouff) made the SMR once.
Alexander Mattison, RB, 6: Maybe, just maybe, picking Alexander Mattison in the third round wasn’t a bad pick. I’ve mentioned on here before how worried I was about replacing the production Latavius Murray gave the Vikings. I always felt Murray was underrated here, and did a lot of little things very well. Mattison has stepped in and made the transition rather seamlessly. He’s as good of a runner and pass protector as Murray was, and although I think his pass catching skills aren’t quite up to his predecessor’s level, it really hasn’t been needed Dalvin Cook is having such a tremendous season. Mattison has been a mostly exceptional complement to Cook this year, and his half a dozen solid investments are a testament to that.
Harrison Smith, S, 3: Smith has been his steady, solid self once again this year. He’s such a fundamentally sound player, and so much fun to watch. His hamstring injury against Denver is a concern, as he does so much for the defense. Hopefully, he’ll be good to go for Monday Night.
Kirk Cousins, QB, 3: It’s not the first time you’ve seen Cousins on the Portfolio Update...and it won’t be the last. He has the most appearances on the SMR, but that’s to be expected when you’re the starting quarterback. His good games are scrutinized as much as his bad games are, and they will continue to be. Fortunately, he’s had more good to great games so far this year than he’s had bad games, and with any luck, that trend will continue for the rest of the season.
Eric Kendricks, Adam Thielen, Everson Griffen, Bisi Johnson, and Irv Smith, Jr. have been a solid investment twice, while eight players and one position group (the offensive line) have made it at least once.
New category, four guys: Early this season, I asked about new categories for the SMR, and someone suggested an IPO category for someone who makes an appearance on the SMR for the first time. It wasn’t in week one, or Alexander Mattison would have been included. But four worthy awards have been given out, though. Irv Smith, Jr., Bisi Johnson, Laquon Treadwell, and Jaleel Johnson have all gotten the call, and with any luck, we’ll have a few more as the season hits the home stretch.
Xavier Rhodes, CB, 3: It hasn’t been the best of years for the X Man, especially in recent weeks. He didn’t start off strong, but was at least treading water, at least I think so. His play in the last month or so, though...and the rest of the secondary, if we’re being honest...has really tailed off. It’s a disturbing trend, and if the Vikings don’t find a way to correct it, it’s hard to see them making a real deep playoff run.
Pat Elflein, G, 2: Overall, I think Elflein’s play has really steadied the last 2-3 games, for the most part, but for a good part of the season he was the weakest link in what I think has become a pretty improved o-line. The way Elflein and the Vikings interior line plays is usually an early indicator of how games unfold for the Vikings. If they’re solid, the Vikes play very well. If they struggle, and it’s usually Elflein that sticks out if that’s happening, the team will struggle offensively.
Kirk Cousins, QB, 2: Oh hey, it’s Cousins again. At this point, I feel he’s like the Wadsworth poem about the little girl with a curl in the middle of her forehead. When he’s good, he’s very good indeed, but when he is bad he is horrid.
Mike Zimmer, HC, 2: I like Zimmer as the Vikings coach. The Minnesota Vikings are in a much better place, both on and off the field since he became the head coach in 2014. Mike Zimmer has been badly outcoached at times this year, most notably in Chicago, Kansas City, and the first half of the Denver game. All of these things can be simultaneously true.
Six players and one position group (once again the o-line) have been a junk bond once.
Buy: This is a playoff team. With a better than 90% chance to make the postseason, this isn’t anything close to resembling a hot take. This is a good football team, with explosive players on both sides of the ball. When they are playing well, they can beat anyone.
Sell: This is a team built to win three road games as a wildcard. That said, they still have questions to answer in these last five games. Yes, they had their four game winning streak in October, but they’re not going to play the Giants, Detroit, or Washington in the playoffs. Yes, they had that great comeback at home against Denver. Go down 20-0 on the road in the playoffs, and you’re going to end up on the wrong end of an ass kicking. But...they beat Dallas in Dallas, and yes, they have a chance to put the rest of the NFC on notice if they can beat Seattle next Monday.
Buy: The Vikings can win the division. Again, when the Vikings are firing on all cylinders, they can play with and beat anyone. Can they win in Seattle? Yes. If they do, is 13-3 very realistic? Yeah, it sure the hell is.
Sell: The Vikings can win the division. Will they win in Seattle? I hope so. I don’t think a lot of people had this penciled in as a win when the schedule came out, and Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is on the short list of MVP candidates this year. If they do, I think they run the table. If they lose, I think they drop one more, finish 11-5, and end up as the sixth seed in the NFC playoffs.
Buy: The 49ers and Ravens look to be the clear cut favorites right now. Watching both these teams play over the weekend, I’m having a hard time finding any real weaknesses in either one. San Francisco’s defense is incredibly fast to the point of attack and they relentlessly go after the QB. The Ravens running game is unstoppable, and Lamar Jackson is also a deadly accurate thrower. Right now, their matchup this weekend looks like a Super Bowl preview.
Sell: The 49ers and Ravens will be the favorites a month from now: I’m not saying they won’t be, but five games in the NFL is an eternity. San Francisco has a brutal finish to their schedule, and could go from the number one seed to a wildcard if they drop a few games to close things out. Heck, if the Vikings run the table, which they are very capable of doing, they’ll more than likely get a bye, and will be in serious running for homefield throughout the playoffs. If that happens, they’ll be Super Bowl favorites. Or New Orleans could be, or Green Bay could be.
My point is that there’s a lot of football left to play, the Vikings are one of the healthiest teams in the NFL, and have one of the best rosters in the league. If they’re going to go on a run, it starts Monday in Seattle.
Go Vikes, beat the Seahawks.