The Philadelphia Eagles (3-2) and Minnesota Vikings (3-2) are set to play at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday. In order to preview this Week 6 matchup, I reached out to our associates over at Daily Norseman. The terrific Ted Glover kindly took the time to answer my questions about the upcoming game. Let’s take a look at his answers! (Also, don’t forget to check out my side of the Q&A exchange over at DN.)
1 - To what extent is there a lingering concern with this drama the Vikings have been dealing with? Adam Thielen throwing Kirk Cousins under the bus, Stefon Diggs potentially wanting a trade … is that all just water under the bridge with the Vikings winning in Week 5?
Right now I think it’s fine ... until the offense has another bad game and causes the Vikings to lose a game. On one hand, part of me thinks that there was a lot of stuff boiling just below the surface, and the Bears game brought it all to the forefront. Maybe the Vikings had a Festivus airing of Grievances in October, everyone got all their opinions out into the open, and then moved past it. Winning cures a lot of what ails you, and if the Vikes can keep winning, or at least not play that bad on offense, I don’t think it will be an issue. If they had lost to the Giants, I think it would have taken a bad situation and made it a hundred times worse, though. Let’s see what happens when the offense struggles and the Vikings lose, then we’ll circle back to this.
2 - How would you assess your confidence level in Cousins based on his performance so far? Are the Vikings truly Super Bowl contenders with him under center considering his career 4-24 record against teams that finish a season with 9+ wins?
Honestly, I go back and forth on this. He can look phenomenal one week, like he did against the Giants. He was in command, made good throws, and ran the Vikings offense very well. But, you know, it was the Giants. Physically, he can do it all--make all the throws, run an offense, and he’s very durable, as he has shown through eight NFL seasons. But yeah, to win a Super Bowl you have to beat good teams, and the thing with Cousins isn’t that he and the Vikings have lost, it’s the WAY they’ve lost. Against the Bears, they just didn’t even really seem to compete, and that was disheartening. Other than a shootout against the Rams early last year, they’ve looked overmatched and it’s frustrating to watch, because there’s so much talent on both sides of the ball. So yeah, the talent is there, definitely. But until Kirk puts it together, consistently, against good teams, they aren’t going to do much of anything. Will he? I think we might get some answers this week against what I think is a pretty good Eagles team.
3 - What are the Vikings’ greatest strengths? What has you feeling good about this team?
On offense, they’re running the ball as well as anyone in the NFL. Dalvin Cook is a special player, and now that he’s healthy he’s having a fantastic season so far. His backup, rookie Alexander Mattison, is playing well, too. And they still have a really great WR duo in Diggs and Thielen. The key to the offense is the offensive line, which had it’s best game of the season last week. If they can keep improving, it will bode well for Sunday. Defensively, their d-line is really good and they have a lot of depth. DE’s Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter are really having strong starts, and are one of the top DE combos in pressures so far this year.
4 - If you were building a game plan for the Vikings, how would you attack them on both offense and defense?
On offense, just stay balanced, stick to your early script, and keep the Vikings off-balance. When the Vikings have struggled on defense, it’s been when Mike Zimmer can’t figure out what’s coming next. They got down 21-0 against Green Bay and 16-0 against the Bears, and the defense had trouble getting off the field early. By the time the defense adjusted, it was too big a deficit for the offense to come back from. On defense, stop Dalvin Cook and make Kirk Cousins throw the ball. When that happened against Chicago, Minnesota’s offense was rendered useless.
5 - Who wins this game and why? Score prediction? And what are your expectations for the rest of this Vikings season?
For as poorly as the Vikings played in their two losses, those were on the road. The Vikings generally play very well at home, and they have a really good home field advantage. This is a huge game for both teams, and later in the year I think it will be a big factor in determining tiebreakers in what looks to be a brutally tough NFC. I expect a close game, and if it was in Philly, I think the Eagles take a close one. But I think it’s a close home win for Minnesota, call it 23-16.