Watch Vikings Territory Breakdown with Joe Oberle and Mark Craig
Minnesota Vikings fans woke up on Monday morning, October 17, 2022, and realized again their favorite team was tied for the second-best record in the NFL. It was true, no matter how much we rubbed our eyes, and shook our heads like a disbelieving cartoon dog. Just win, baby! The Vikings aren’t very pretty, but they are 5-1 going into the bye week, so perhaps it’s time to just “Enjoy the season!”
That record puts them atop the NFC North division alone, with a two-game (plus the tie-breaker) lead over the suddenly stumbling Green Bay Packers and finds them (grudgingly for some) in the conversation for post-season prospects (some have them at 92 percent chance to make the playoffs). The Purple got there with another improbable slow-start (very slow, no-first-down-until-late-in-the-second-quarter slow) victory over the Dolphins in Miami by the score 24-16.
By rights, the Vikings should have lost this game. They punted 10 times, had seven three-and-outs—four to start the game and three to start the second half—and their running back was meandering along at 1.2 yards per carry until his fourth-quarter burst for 53 yards put the team up for good. But the Vikings, by rights, should have won the game going away because the Fins were without their starting quarterback, and then lost their backup and were missing their two starting offensive tackles in the game. This should have been a defensive blowout. And it kind of was.
The Vikings won thanks to three timely turnovers, six sacks, a bunch of pressures from Za’Darius Smith, great coverage by veteran Patrick Peterson, big plays by Harrison Smith and Cam Bynum and decent linebacking from Eric Kendricks and Jordan Hicks. The defense kept the Dolphins in check and special teams maintained good field position until the offense could get going. The offense did enough to win the game, even though at times it had observers wanting to scrap the whole game plan.
But we don’t want that now. The Vikings are 5-1 and have an extra week to relish in that fact. They can now get rid of any remaining London jet lag, heal up any wounds (they are surprisingly healthy) and get ready for the Arizona Cardinals coming to town on October 30. They are being called the ugliest 5-1 team in the league. They are being overlooked as serious contenders in the NFC because the Packers are sure to R-E-L-A-X and wake up and take the division away from them, right? They won’t be standing in week 17 and we should not get our hopes up since this is only week—we should certainly believe.
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