Sat, 23 Oct 2021

Lindsey Young

The Vikings still believe in themselves but also understand the importance of notching a win in their home opener.

Minnesota will host Seattle Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium and is looking to improve to 1-2 on the season.

CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora took a look at the Vikings, who are one of seven winless teams through two weeks. La Canfora wrote:

[The Vikings] should have beat the Bengals in Week 1 but ended up chasing that game and then handing it right back late. Got in a shootout against the Cardinals last Sunday and this time lost on a game-ending field goal gone awry (a Vikings specialty).

La Canfora said "it's worth pointing out" that both of Minnesota's losses have occurred in road games, and this weekend the Vikings will be able to play in front of their home crowd for the first time in nearly two years.

He called the health of the Vikings defense a "concern" with multiple starters banged up, and he also expressed concern about Minnesota's star running back.

Dalvin Cook is being asked to carry the offense, and he too got dinged up last week. One gets the sense this is a frustrated and wound up fanbase, and I'd suggest a strong start against Seattle. This won't be easy. Russell Wilson should be able to cook against this defensive line, and no one is throwing a better deep ball right now. Only six teams have yielded more 10-yard-or-more plays than Minnesota, and only Tennessee has allowed more plays of 50 yards or more. Better get that fixed, quick.

La Canfora pointed out that the Vikings play three in a row at home - against the Seahawks, Browns and Lions - before visiting Carolina on the road. Next comes the bye, followed by hosting Dallas and then going to Baltimore.

Tricky little stretch and one that must be navigated with aplomb to stay close to Green Bay, the class of the NFC North. This Packers team isn't going to be nearly as good as the last two, but you already have to start wondering about anyone else in the division making it a fight.

Jefferson's 2 drops are 'nothing to be concerned about'

Heading into Week 3 of the 2021 season, ESPN asked its beat reporters to name "the biggest surprise" for their respective teams. Then, determine whether that surprise is "mirage or real."

It could be argued that Minnesota has posed a few surprises, but Courtney Cronin highlighted Justin Jefferson's two dropped passes. Last season's rookie phenom is looking to make an even bigger splash in Year 2. So far, he has 11 catches for 136 yards and a touchdown in his first two games.

So, should fans be worried about the pair of drops? Cronin wrote:

Jefferson caught everything that went his way as a rookie, so a drop each against Cincinnati and Arizona is rare territory for the star receiver whose plus-9.1 [percent] catch rate was above expectation in 2020 (eighth in the NFL among receivers with at least 50 catches) along with his 4.35 [percent] drop rate (14thamong starting receivers). The 22-year-old wideout caught his first TD pass in Week 2 and is first on the team in targets (19). This suggests there is nothing to be concerned about considering neither of those drops were in make-or-break situations, and he is a main part of the engine that powers this offense.

Worth noting are the surprises connected to the Vikings NFC North rivals.

ESPN's Eric Woodyard pointed to Detroit's 5-for-5 success rate in the red zone thus far, and Jeff Dickerson said Robert Quinn's early success (1.5 sacks) is no mirage. Rob Demovsky said the Packers biggest surprise is that Green Bay has struggled so far to rush the passer.

It has to get better, right? What could be worse than not a single player having a sack through two games? The Packers only sack was a credited team sack after Lions quarterback Jared Goff fumbled without contact. The reason it's likely a mirage is the pass rush is winning at least sometimes. It ranks 21stin ESPN's pass rush win rate at (39.6 percent), which is nearly the same as last season. However, it's nowhere close to its 2019 rate of 47 [percent], which ranked ninth in the league.

More Memphis News

Access More

Sign up for Memphis News

a daily newsletter full of things to discuss over drinks.and the great thing is that it's on the house!