Minnesota Vikings Stay Alive In Playoff Race

3 Takeaways From The Vikings’ Victory In Chicago

Minnesota Vikings
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings beat the Chicago Bears in ugly fashion, 17-9 at Solider Field. It was a poor showing by both offenses, as both teams struggled to get points on the board. With the win, the Vikings now have a 33% chance to make the playoffs. Where does Minnesota stand now? Here are the three biggest takeaways from the Vikings’ victory.

Kirk Cousins Cracks Under Pressure

Kirk Cousins has shown before he’s not good under pressure. Cousins faced pressure early and often in this game, ending the game with 4 sacks. It was obvious that the pressure affected the passing game. Cousins finished with only 87 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. As a result of Cousins’ poor game, Justin Jefferson only finished with 47 yards and 1 touchdown. Dalvin Cook had more yards than Cousins, finishing with 89 yards. Considering how often the Vikings’ punted the ball away, it’s a miracle they left today with a win.

The Vikings’ offensive line didn’t help matters. Robert Quinn and Akiem Hicks provided an excellent pass rush, making the offensive line look foolish for most of the game. Considering the Minnesota offensive front was shifted once again with Christian Darrisaw’s return, it’s no surprise they struggled. But at a certain point, you have to stop making excuses for Kirk Cousins. Cousins’ cap hit in 2022 is $45 million. The Vikings are left with a decision, with a cap hit that large. Extend Kirk Cousins or trade him? Games like this might just be the deciding factor in Kirk’s future in Minnesota.

Defense Steps Up

In a sloppy offensive game, the Vikings’ defense had the opportunity to step up and win the game. Justin Fields finished with 285 yards. David Montgomery finished with 60 yards. Statistically, it was a good game for Chicago’s offense. The difference maker was the Vikings’ defense stepping up in the red zone. The Bears made their way to the Vikings’ red zone 3 times in the fourth quarter. The Vikings only allowed one touchdown during that quarter, which came on the final play of the game. DJ Wonnum was the star of the game, with 3 sacks and a forced fumble.

This game, the Vikings’ defense looked like a vintage Mike Zimmer defense. The Vikings won the turnover battle, taking the ball away 3 times from the Bears’ offense. The Minnesota defense blitzed often, flustering the rookie Justin Fields. The secondary and run defense continued to be a bit of liability this game, but they made up for it by good red zone play. The Vikings’ defense has struggled this season. This is the get right game they needed, just before the playoffs.

Is This Really A Playoff Team?

Despite the good defensive play, this was a mostly ugly game for the Vikings. The Bears’ entire starting secondary was in Covid protocol. The big story going into the game was how close Justin Jefferson was to breaking another NFL record. Jefferson was only 68 yards away from breaking Odell Beckham Jr’s record of the most yards in a player’s first 2 seasons. Considering Chicago’s secondary situation, this looked to be the game where Jefferson would break that record. Instead, Jefferson only had 47 yards. It’s also worth mentioning that the Bears’ defense isn’t very good. Yet, the Vikings only recorded 193 total yards on Monday night.

The Vikings’ offense is stacked with talent. Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, KJ Osborn, and Tyler Conklin have all proven to be reliable weapons for Kirk Cousins. Yet, they’re incapable of dominating far inferior opponents. It came down to the final play against the Lions and Steelers. On Monday night, the offense simply couldn’t get moving. Can a team like this really survive in the playoffs?

What’s Next For The Vikings?

The Vikings take on the Rams on Sunday at US Bank Stadium. With a win, the Vikings’ playoff chances would increase to 54%. A loss would all but guarantee they’re done for the season. The Vikings’ offense will need to step up big on Sunday to keep up with the Rams.

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