Your Minnesota Vikings enter week 6 of the NFL season with a 1-4 record. It is wholly believable, but still shocking to say.
It is also believable but shocking to say that I honestly have no idea who will lose in Chicago on Sunday. Just weeks ago I was saying things like “at least we aren’t the Bears” or “they prove that it could be so much worse”.
Well, here we are. meeting Chicago at eye level. Let’s just get to Sunday at this point.
ESPN: #25 (down 1 from #24)
Fantasy surprise: RB Alexander Mattison
Mattison himself has been decent when called upon, and a pair of touchdown receptions has boosted his fantasy point total. But in building their offense around receiver Justin Jefferson, and in attempting to come back from early deficits, the Vikings simply haven’t run the ball much. They lead the NFL in passing attempts (204) and have fewer carries by running backs than all but one team. The biggest surprise is that Mattison, a powerful inside runner, hasn’t been able to punch it into the end zone on any of his 11 red zone carries. The Vikings are one of two teams that don’t have a rushing touchdown. — Kevin Seifert
NFL.com: Eric Edholm, #25 (no change)
They’ve lost eight fumbles and allowed every single opponent they’ve faced to score first, which at least partially explains how they’re sitting at 1-4. So, do we take any solace from the fact that they were competitive against the Chiefs? It’s very hard to when Justin Jefferson had a tough game and left with a hamstring injury, and it’s even harder when the script plays out similarly to previous losses. A fumble on the first scrimmage play of the game, which no doubt was a point of emphasis all week in practice from Kevin O’Connell and his staff. ... Clock and game management errors. ... Offensive and defensive failures at key moments in a winnable game. That’s a lot to clean up before facing the Bears on the road. And now the Vikings must move forward without their best player for at least the next four contests, as Jefferson is hitting injured reserve.
Yahoo Sports: Frank Schwab #23 (up one from #24)
The Vikings were the worst 13-win team ever last season, by plenty of measures. This season, they’re clearly the best 1-4 team. That’s not even an argument. But 1-4 is a bad place to be in the NFL, and it’s starting to feel like an unsatisfying end to the Kirk Cousins era, which has been unsatisfying before this season.
USA Today: Nate Davis #25 (down one from #24)
Why is offensive balance often a virtue? Consider one-win Minnesota, which has thrown more passes (204) than any team in the league while attempting the fewest runs (91). However that calculus might have to change with All-Pro Justin Jefferson’s hamstring injury forcing him to IR.
Bleacher Report: #23 (down one from #22)
In 2022, the Minnesota Vikings lived by one-score games, winning an-NFL record 11 of them.
In 2023, the Vikings are dying by them.
After falling by seven points to the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, all five of the Vikings games have been decided by one score. And in losing four of them, any hopes the Vikings have of making the postseason is circling the drain. It’s not hard to see why the Vikings are losing these close ones, either—Minnesota’s 12 giveaways lead the league.
As if all that’s not bad enough, the Vikings also lost star wideout Justin Jefferson to a hamstring injury. The severity of the injury is unknown, but quarterback Kirk Cousins told reporters the team is hopeful that his absence will be short one.
“Justin has done a phenomenal job for the last three-and-a-half years of staying healthy and being healthy every week, which is hard to do,” Cousins said. “Even with this injury, it makes you pause and be grateful for how healthy he has been.”
Next week’s trip to Chicago (in theory) should be a winnable game without Jefferson. But the Week 7 tilt with the San Francisco 49ers is a whole other matter.
And unless the Vikings start stacking wins, like, now, the topic of conversation in the Twin Cities is going to shift to 2024—and whether Cousins should be part of the franchise’s future.
Sporting News, Vinnie Iyler: #26 (up 3 from #29)
The Vikings’ magical late-game mojo is gone, replaced with critical costly mistakes and falling just short of finishing. Now Justin Jefferson needs to fight through a hamstring injury to keep things from unraveling further.
CBS Sports, Pete Prisco: #28 (up one)
They competed against the Chiefs, but it doesn’t matter. At 1-4, they now start playing division games, which gives them a chance to get back in the race. Or does it?
The Ringer: #19 (down 2 from #17)
The Vikings were by far the luckiest team last season when it came to recovering fumbles. They fumbled the ball 18 times on offense but lost just eight of those. But on defense, they forced 11 fumbles and recovered 10. Through two games this season, the Vikings offense had put the ball on the turf six times … and lost all six of them. The defense had forced just one fumble but didn’t recover it.
There are bright spots, to be sure. The team lost to the Eagles by only six in Week 2, despite Justin Jefferson’s fumble out of the end zone on what should have been a scoring drive. They lost to the Buccaneers by a field goal in Week 1. And just like the Vikings’ advantageous 2022 fumble luck has regressed to begin this season, their run of astounding bad luck shouldn’t continue for 15 more games. Brighter days are ahead. But for those who thought last season’s Vikings were overrated and wouldn’t be able to weather less fortunate bounces of the football, 2023 has been proof. —Riley McAtee
Pro Football Network, Dallas Robinson #26 (down 2 from#24)
After going 11-1 in one-score games last season, the Vikings are 1-4 in such contests this year. To add insult to (literal) injury, Minnesota will be without the game’s best WR for at least four games after placing Justin Jefferson on injured reserve this week.
In-season quarterback trades are rare in the NFL, but the Vikings should seriously consider moving Kirk Cousins now that they’re three games back of the Detroit Lions in the NFC North.