Through Sunday, the 8-1 Vikings boast the NFL’s second-best record, trailing only the undefeated Eagles. So…is Minnesota the NFL’s second-best team? Well, if this were the NFL Power Rankings, as opposed to the Schein Nine, I would indeed put the Vikes in the No. 2 spot. They fully deserve it following a thrilling overtime win in Buffalo. Thus, the above statement is factual.
I love Kevin O’Connell. I love his playbook and his positivity. He’s a gem, a top-notch Coach of the Year candidate. Can’t imagine many folks thought he’d take eight of his first nine games as a head coach, and this latest triumph was more than just another notch in the win column. We’d been waiting for Minnesota to provide a true statement victory. Sunday in Western New York, O’Connell’s team erased a 17-point second-half deficit and knocked off Buffalo, my preseason Super Bowl pick. That’ll do.
Minnesota survived — and eventually thrived in — the zaniest and best game of this season so far. Justin Jefferson offered up another masterpiece, catching 10 balls for 193 yards and a touchdown. His highlight real from this game alone includes numerous jaw-dropping feats, but none greater than the 32-yard grab on fourth-and-18 where the 23-year-old used one hand to highpoint Kirk Cousins‘heave and rip the ball away from Bills DB Cam Lewis before somehow maintaining possession on his descent to the turf. Simply amazing — but also nothing new for No. 18. Jefferson has played 42 games in this league, and he already boasts 20 100-yard efforts. That’s the most century-mark outings by any NFL player in his first three seasons, and the guy still has eight more games to add to the record! Credit is also due to Cousins, who bounced back from two ghastly interceptions to provide brilliant returns in the fourth quarter and overtime, where he notched his fifth game-winning drive of the season — already a career high!
I know the Vikings have won seven straight games by one score. I know that if Josh Allen hadn’t come apart down the stretch, we’d be having a different conversation. I know Sean McDermott crowded up not kicking the field goal in the fourth quarter that would’ve re-extended Buffalo’s lead to 13 points. But the Vikings ran the ball with authority, as Dalvin Cook piled up 119 yards and a touchdown on just 14 carries (8.5 yards a pop). They made clutch plays on defense, notching four takeaways, including two game defining picks from Patrick Peterson. Jefferson did Jefferson things, and Cousins delivered down the stretch in a huge spot.
These Vikings, who already own a five-game lead over the rest of the NFC North in the loss column, are legit. Deal with it.