Week Six a Success for the Vikings

On Sunday, October 14th, the Minnesota Vikings (NFC North) hosted the Arizona Cardinals (NFC West) at U.S. Bank Stadium. Coming in to Week 6 with a record of 2-2-1, compared to the Cardinals’ 1-4-0, the Vikings seemed to be in good shape to win.

They did not disappoint. Although Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins’ performance was not as explosive as it had been earlier in the season, the Vikings’ dynamic offense nevertheless outshined the Cardinals to pull off a 27-17 win.

The Cardinals’ only win this season came during Week 5 against the San Francisco 49ers, whose quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL in late September. Aside from that, the Cardinals’ season so far hasn’t looked too promising for rookie quarterback Josh Rosen. Called “the Chosen Rosen” and “the Chosen One,” the 21-year-old UCLA graduate was drafted by the Cardinals in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

While the Cardinals lacked any standout performances, the Vikings’ two stars during the game were wide receiver Adam Thielen and running back Latavius Murray. Murray achieved 49 yards after his first three carries, and he ended the day with 155 yards and a touchdown to boot. His work demonstrated that the Vikings still have plenty of potential with their run game, provided the other team leaves holes as the Cardinals did.

Perhaps the biggest “player to watch,” according the Vikings Playbook, is Adam Thielen. His story is the ultimate all-American underdog-to-superstar progression. In 2013, Thielen was merely an undrafted invitee to the Vikings’ rookie minicamp. Now, the 28-year-old is statistically one of the best in the NFL. He entered Week 6 with 47 receptions, ranking second in the league with 589 yards. In fact, his 47 receptions through the first five weeks of the season surpassed Wes Walker’s record of 45, set in 2011 with the New England Patriots.

Thielen’s history of record-smashing doesn’t end there. He has become the first player in the Super Bowl era to start a season with five consecutive games with 100 or more receiving yards. He has set a franchise record for the longest streak of games with five-plus catches and at least 100 yards in team history. He entered Sunday’s game tied for the fifth-longest streak in NFL history.

Having won both games during the past two weeks (they narrowly beat the Philadelphia Eagles 23-21 in Week 5), the Vikings now have their first win streak of the season. They’ll need this momentum heading into Week 7, where they’ll play an away game against the New York Jets. Given their record of 3-3-0, the Jets appear to be more evenly matched with the Vikings and thus will present more of a challenge.

Cornerback Mike Hughes had really started to take off over the past few weeks, but after Sunday’s game he’ll be out for presumably the rest of the season with a torn ACL. This means that the Vikings will have to make do without their first-round pick from the 2018 draft. Hopefully this won’t pose too much of an issue. Hughes’ injury means more run time for cornerback Mackensie Alexander, who played one of his best games during Week 6.

Despite some setbacks, the Vikings appear to be gaining momentum as the season picks up. Next Sunday will provide a make-or-break opportunity for them to carry that momentum forward.