The Minnesota Vikings have been the most disrespected winning team in the NFL this season. Despite an 8-1 record, very few outside the state of Minnesota believe the Vikings are a “real” contender in the NFC. Even after surprisingly pulling out an overtime victory over the Buffalo Bills last week, most people still need to see more from Kirk Cousins and crew.
Well, the proof is in that Minneapolis pudding, and they need to continue showing it in Week 11 with the Dallas Cowboys in town for a late Sunday afternoon showdown. The Cowboys had also been rolling at 6-2 heading into last week’s game with Green Bay. Then, of course, the Cowboys did what the Cowboys always do in the face of prosperity. Dallas dropped this game to Green Bay, although they were favored to win on the road.
Minnesota is in a similar situation, but while they aren’t technically favored in this game (1.5-point underdogs), most analysts and fans view them in the same light as the Cowboys. Just when it looks like they’ve turned the corner after a big win, it’d be just like Cousins to have one of those mistake-riddled games and lose. That would be validation for all the Vikings’ critics to say, “we told you so.”
A win over the Cowboys would put the Vikings in a good position for home-field advantage in the NFC heading toward the end of the season. Although Minnesota dropped their head-to-head match-up with Philadelphia early in the year, they’ve climbed back into a tie for the No. 1 seed with the Eagles.
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At 8-1, the Eagles and Vikings are neck and neck, with Philly seemingly having a tougher schedule down the stretch. The Eagles still have games left against Tennessee, Dallas, and the Giants twice. After facing Dallas this week, Minnesota has notable games remaining against the Jets and Giants.
So, Minnesota needs to keep doing what they’re doing, and home field is likely to become a reality. With the Vikings, everyone acknowledges the talent of wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Entering the season, he said he wanted to be known as the best wideout in the NFL, and he’s gone above and beyond in making his case. Jefferson is averaging over 117 receiving yards per game this season and is on pace to surpass Randy Moss for the most receiving yards in the first three seasons for any player in NFL history.
But when it comes to the guy throwing him the ball, everyone is reluctant to give Cousins any flowers. Somebody’s got to pass the rock to Jefferson so he can make those spectacular catches like the one-handed grab against the Bills. Cousins passed for 357 yards against one of the better defenses in the league in Buffalo. He isn’t Patrick Mahomes, but Cousins hasn’t had many games where he’s made the big mistakes that cost Minnesota. Cousins is playing within the offense, resulting in them being tied for the best record in the league.
A win over Dallas should make Minnesota the favorite for home-field advantage in the NFC and should make believers out of most. Obviously, this isn’t a must-win game for the Vikings, but in the court of public opinion, this game couldn’t be any bigger.