They wanted it bad last year. The Vikings hosted the Super Bowl in Minneapolis only to have their dreams of actually playing in the big game crushed by the Eagles in the postseason. They were looking strong this season with the majority of starters returning and new quarterback Kirk Cousins, but then, to be honest, we gave up on them (just a little) when they lost to the Buffalo Bills in Week 3. Seriously, what was that?
But now we’re starting to rethink the Minnesota Vikings. And we’re not alone. Along with the Saints, the Vikings are the biggest threat in the NFC to the seemingly unstoppable, undefeated Rams. In Week 7, they beat the Jets on the road by 20 points. And other than their loss to the Rams (understandable) and the Bills (can we refer call that a fluke yet?), they’ve tied the Packers and defeated everyone else so far this season. Fun fact: They’re the only team the Rams didn’t beat by double digits at home.
With a record of 4-2-1, the Vikings are coming off a three-game winning streak and sitting pretty at the top of the NFC North. Could this be the year they finally win the franchise’s first Super Bowl? Sure, they’ve only played one divisional game so far, but we’re optimistic.
…And all of a sudden, look who’s back in the (top-five) best odds to win the Super Bowl:
Odds via OddsShark on October 22nd.
|Los Angeles Rams||+300|
|New England Patriots||+500|
|Kansas City Chiefs||+600|
|New Orleans Saints||+900|
Kirk Cousins is good… even if you don’t notice it
After last season, the Vikings decided to upgrade from former quarterback Case Keenum, and despite a somewhat rocky start, Kirk Cousins has definitely improved the team. Cousins currently ranks among the NFL’s top three in completions, completion percentage, and passing yards. On Sunday, he got the chance to show the Jets – who offered him $90 million guaranteed back in March – exactly what they’re missing out on. Just FYI, Cousins snagged the biggest deal in the NFL (at the time) using that offer as a bargaining chip. Following six seasons with the Washington Redskins, he signed an improved $84 million, three-year deal with the Vikings.
Against the Jets, however, Cousins and his team played (kinda) sloppy football against an inferior opponent. But they still won. Despite windy, unpredictable conditions at MetLife Stadium, the new QB was able to put the ball exactly where he wanted it, complete passes, and connect with Aldrick Robinson on a fourth down for a 34-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. He completed 25 of 40 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns without any interceptions. He did fumble once, which has been an issue for Cousins this season, but Stefon Diggs managed to recover it quickly. He also had the ball tipped a few times at the line of scrimmage, another thing the Vikings and Head Coach Mike Zimmer admit they need to work on.
Oh, and Cousins is a leader too! Check out his pre-game hype speech to his teammates.
Adam Thielen is breaking records on the low
The majority of last season’s starters are back this year, which makes them another solid bet for the Super Bowl. These guys got soooo close, and early in the season, they had 19 out of 22 projected starters return for another shot at the Lombardi Trophy. Sure, the big game won’t be at home in the #BoldNorth this year, but they’re still looking to prove themselves.
Adam Thielen is one of these returning guys. The wide receiver just had his seventh straight game with over 100 receiving yards. Yep, that’s an NFL record. Against the Jets, he put the first Vikings points on the board with a 34-yard touchdown reception. A true playmaker, Thielen is one of Cousins’s most reliable targets on the field. He’s already hit his career high this season with five touchdowns, racking up 67 receptions and 822 yards. He and Stefon Diggs make up one of the best and most dynamic receiving duos in the league.
And they’ve still got Stefon Diggs
Meanwhile, Diggs had a slower week against the Jets. He had 8 catches for only 33 yards. The Jets defense contained him well, despite 14 targets from Cousins. If you’ll remember, Diggs achieved superstardom in Minnesota when he knocked the Saints out of the playoffs with this epic touchdown. This season, however, he’s been shut out of the end zone since Week 2, which isn’t too surprising considering he’s often shadowed by the opposing team’s number-one cornerback or facing double coverage.
The good news for the Vikings? Thielen is 28 years old and Diggs is only 24, so if they stick around, they have plenty of time to grow, improve, and gel together.
But next week, the Vikings have to go up against the Saints’ offensive powerhouse for the first time since that heartbreak of a game (for New Orleans, anyway) last year. With each of these teams owning some of the highest odds to win the Super Bowl this year, we’ll finally get to see how they match up against each other.
The Vikings have made it to four Super Bowls, but they’ve never won one. Can they get back there this year?