Where the Vikings Fit Within the NFC Playoff Picture

–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Deputy Editor for Full Press NFL. Like and Follow @samc_smith.  Follow @fpc_vikingsFollow @fpc_nfl Latest Vikings News [catlist name=minnesota-vikings]
Disappointment with this Vikings team is warranted. They were not supposed to be clawing for a playoff spot, they were supposed to stand atop the hill. Still, there is reason for optimism with regard to the postseason. For all the lackluster performances, they still sit in wild card position, in control of their own playoff destiny.

Harris and Weatherly: Unsung Playmakers in Vikings’ Defense

The Vikings' defensive depth has been tested all year, yet the defense has improved week-to-week, now somewhat resembling last year's top unit. And along the way, Minnesota has learned that they have some players that, for years, have lurked behind starters, waiting for their chance. No better examples exist than Stephen Weatherly and Anthony Harris.

Vikings May Have Two Coordinators on the Hot Seat

Jul 28, 2018; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo at Vikings training camp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
The Vikings were supposed to be among the NFC elites. They were supposed to be pushing the Saints and Rams for the best record in the conference. They were supposed to run away with the division. Yet, here they stand, four games remaining, a game and a half back of the Bears in the NFC North, narrowly clutching to the second wild card spot. 

Vikings Offense Disappears, Patriots Win 24-10

Dec 2, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones (31) reacts after an interception during the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
In what has become an all-too-familiar roller coaster of offensive production, the Vikings hit another valley on Sunday. They amassing just 278 total yards and 10 points in Foxboro. Pending Monday night's game, the Vikings could enter week 14 on the outside of the playoff hunt looking in. 

New England Patriots Week 13 Preview: Defensive Strategy vs Minnesota Vikings

The New England Patriots won their eighth game of the 2018 season with a 27-13 road victory last Sunday at the New York Jets. New England has once again taken control of the AFC East and also set themselves up to finish with a...

New England Patriots Week 13 Preview: Offensive Strategy vs Minnesota Vikings

The New England Patriots won their eighth game of the 2018 season with a 27-13 road victory last Sunday at the New York Jets. New England has once again taken control of the AFC East and also set themselves up to finish with a...

Charting Cousins: Week 12 vs. Packers

Nov 25, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) drops back to pass in the first quarter against Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
In week 12, the Vikings earned a huge victory against the Packers, propelling back into the playoff discussion. Kirk Cousins played one of his better games of the year as he outdueled Aaron Rodgers. 

Week 13 Vikings at Patriots Preview: Matchups and Predictions

Minnesota's struggles with covering backs in the passing game has been a focus of opponents since week four. Last week, the linebackers were better, making some big defensive plays when Aaron Rodgers tried to take shots with his backs. But New England uses their running back as much as anyone in football.

Vikings’ Defense Must Account for More Than Just Brady

Nov 25, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) in the huddle against the New York Jets during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Despite the fact that the Patriots are 8-3 and are undoubtedly a top-five team, they have not received nearly the public praise as other AFC favorites. Their offense is, by any measure, great. Their division is effectively sewn up. They have big names. So why are the Chiefs and Steelers getting all the love as AFC offensive juggernauts?

Vikings Bury Packers: Three Up, Three Down

Nov 25, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) passes the ball during the third quarter against the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports
In a change of pace from the last few games, it was tough to find negatives with the Vikings' performance Sunday night. In a key division game, they showed the talent level that led many to pick them to win the NFC North at the beginning of the season. 

Charting Cousins: Week 11 at Chicago

Nov 18, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) warms up prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports
In week 11, the Vikings fell on the road to the Bears. Cousins' numbers were decent, but multiple mistakes cost the Vikings a chance to take control of the NFC North. 

Vikings Rebound With Convincing Win Over Packers

Nov 25, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) celebrates his touchdown in the first quarter against Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
It was a matchup of two somewhat disappointing teams facing their potential last stand in a division clash. The Vikings, at 5-4-1, coming off an ugly loss on the road in Chicago, would still have a path to the playoff with a loss, but it would be a narrow one. The Packers came in below .500 and needed the win to hang in the NFC playoff picture. 

Week 12 Packers at Vikings: Matchups, Injuries, Predictions

Sep 16, 2018; Green Bay, WI, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) catches a pass for a touchdown against Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander (23) in the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
While not mathematically eliminated, the loser of Sunday night's game will effectively see their playoff hopes dwindle away. Both have performed below expectations this year and are coming off major road losses in week 11. These division rivals have everything to play for.

Being a Defensively-Built Team No Longer Works

Which brings us to the Vikings. Rick Spielman built a great roster for 2017. The defense is loaded at every level, the offense has play-makers and he got a quarterback thought to be the missing link. But here they are, 5-4-1, middle of the pack. 

Cousins and Primetime Do Not Get Along

Kirk Cousins has never been an elite quarterback. No one should claim he ever was, regardless of the number of zeros on his contract. While he has put up great numbers much of this year and has been the catalyst of some of the best offensive performances in recent Vikings memory, Cousins has been and always will be flawed.

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