Another week, another win for the Minnesota Vikings as they held off a depleted Baltimore Ravens team 24-16 on Sunday afternoon in a game that could very well be the second most boring game the team plays all year (most boring was the week four loss to Detroit).
This one started off slow, as expected. The first quarter ended tied at three and the only significant play that occurred was a Laquon Treadwell tip that ended up getting picked off, erasing Marcus Sherels’ huge punt return early.
Former Vikings WR Mike Wallace left the game early after taking a hit from Andrew Sendejo that took off his helmet, the ensuing fumble was nullified.
The refs tried to keep the Ravens in this, our defensive lineman got called for one, maybe two, roughing the passer calls that were absolute bullshit. Joe Flacco knew his team didn’t have a chance and started flopping for calls. Meanwhile the Ravens D-line were able to step all over Keenum after the throw and the refs never threw the flag once. Between a few no-calls, a bad PI and the usual NFL ref snowflake call, it was obvious the zebras wanted to give Baltimore the edge.
The second quarter was just as boring as the first. Minnesota and Baltimore exchanged a few more field goals and punts giving us a halftime score of 6-9 (nice).
The second half was somewhat more eventful. The Vikes knocked in a few more field goals, Latavius Murray had the only exciting play of the game, a 29 yard rushing TD, and Baltimore got a meaningless touchdown of their own as time expired. Kai Forbath went 6-6 on FGs but 0-1 on PATs. The Vikings defense continues to look elite; Xavier Rhodes didn’t get thrown at again, Flacco took five sacks for 42 yards and our offense hasn’t been completely exposed — yet.
The Vikes are 5-2, the offense looks okay, the defense looks great, and they play the Browns next week in London heading into the bye. Unless this team shits the bed unlike a lot like ever before, they’ll be sitting at 6-2 mid season with a bye week to prepare for what should be significantly more difficult schedule down the stretch.
Easy Schedule: If there’s one thing we can thank for a winning record, it’s the Vikings’ cakewalk schedule. There’s no real challenges in the division with Rodgers hurt so that makes six games easy wins. We lost one to Detroit in the Dalvin Cook ACL game so that’ll be the one division loss of the year (5-1). We play the entire AFC north which could be one of the worst divisions in football. We dropped one to the Steelers in Keenum’s first start so those add up to 3-1. Now the Vikings are at 8-2 and split their remaining games between the Saints and the Bucs (which we won), the Skins and the Rams (which we should win), the Flacons and the Panthers (which are both toss ups). If the Vikings just win the games they’re supposed to, they finish 12-4.
Offensive Line: The offensive line is still way better than expected. Keenum hasn’t taken a sack in weeks behind a line that used over a dozen combinations last season and seemed to have little regard for Sam Bradford’s health. OT Riley Reiff could be this team’s best offseason acquisition.
QB Controversy?: Keenum again looked average yesterday. 188 yards passing, an INT and no TDs aren’t gonna win many games against legitimate teams, especially when you miss open recievers. With Teddy Bridgewater back in practice, Case Keenum could be hearing footsteps. However, until Teddy can prove he’s healthy, which won’t be easy, it’s most likely gonna be Keenum going forward.
Next Man Up: For the second straight season, the Viking’s sit at 5-2 and are pretty battered up on the offensive side of the ball. Week 1 starters that missed Sunday’s game: Sam Bradford, Stefon Diggs, Dalvin Cook. If this team still had those three players healthy, I would say we’re looking at a 6-1 operation with some real potential to do damage in the postseason. Because of the lack of offensive personnel, it’s hard for this team to ask for much more than a playoff berth or division title.
Defense: If you think a team has a better defense than the Vikings, I would love to know which one. The Vikings are elite at all three levels and have what could be the best secondary in the game. Hunter, Everson, Linval, Barr, Kendricks, Rhodes and Smith all looks like pro bowlers. This could be one of the best defensive units in franchise history. Trae Waynes who usually is a liability is the league’s best tackling corner, which could be in part because the receiver usually catches the ball. While Rhodes puts number one wideouts on an island, Waynes, while serviceable, needs to improve in covering number two and three receivers.
Kicking: Kai Forbath remains effective kicking field goals. He went 6-6 yesterday and made a few from over 50 and is 17 for 18 on the season with a long of 53. He did however miss another extra point, his third of the season (11-14). Will a Forbath PAT miss haunt this team down the stretch? The Vikings know what it’s like to lose by the kicker..
Running Back by Committee: Have McKinnon and Latavius been as good as Dalvin Cook would be? No, but the two man committee continues to split the carries and do some damage. Yesterday was Murray’s first actual showing with the Vikings as McKinnon had been getting most of the looks prior to. Would I rather have a stud rookie who will be a huge piece of this team for years to come? Yes. Do you know else has a RB committee with no real star? The Patriots. No real connection there but I’m going with it.
What’s to Come: The Lions come off the bye and play Pittsburgh next week while Green Bay gets a bye and Chicago gets the Saints who just beat Green Bay. Assuming Detroit and Chicago both lose, the NFC North could look like this through eight weeks:
Pretty impressive that Green Bay technically still has a pulse, right?
It would take another implosion of epic proportions for the Vikings to miss the playoffs, especially considering three of the six games are division matchups. Playing Atlanta and Carolina on the road late season looks to be more manageable every week; the Panthers just got killed by the Bears and the Falcons continue to look like a shell of last year’s team. The Vikings have a legitimate chance to go 12-4 and get Teddy back by playoffs, let’s just hope we don’t play Seattle.
P.S. — Has anybody seen Michael Floyd? Guy has an unreal camp then vanished during his suspension.
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