Don't look now, but only five weeks remain in the 2020 NFL regular season.
Plenty of players from all over the league have garnered attention through the first three quarters of the campaign, including a number of Vikings. Analytics site Pro Football Focus rolled out its “PFF All-Pro Team Update” through Week 12, and two familiar names made the first-team roster: linebacker Eric Kendricks and rookie receiver Justin Jefferson.
PFF's Sam Monson wrote the following of Kendricks, whom he highlighted alongside Seattle's Bobby Wagner:
Few positions have been hit as hard by the explosion of offensive production and efficiency in 2020 than linebacker, but one player who has been standing impressively against the tide is Minnesota's Eric Kendricks. A season ago, Kendricks broke out with a PFF coverage grade of 88.4 and an overall mark of 90.1, and this season he has continued to make those plays in coverage. He has three interceptions and three more pass breakups from 42 targets into his coverage and is just four defensive stops away from matching what he managed in all of 2019, including the playoffs.
Kendricks earned his first career All-Pro honors from The Associated Press last year and was asked by Twin Cities media members on Wednesday about his 2020 performance and whether he expects repeat recognition.
"Man, I play the best I can, and I feel like I'm helping my team at this moment. So that's what I base it off of. Just go with that," Kendricks said. "We've got a lot more season left. I'm going to keep playing hard."
Monson tabbed Jefferson and Green Bay's Davante Adams as the first-team wide receivers. Jefferson, whom the Vikings drafted 22nd overall, has already racked up 52 catches for 918 yards and six touchdowns.
Justin Jefferson made it as far as he did in the draft because of questions about whether he could be as successful outside at the NFL level as he was in college lined up in the slot. Apparently, the answer isn't just "yes" — it's emphatically so. Jefferson is second only to Adams in yards per route run this season (2.91) and has three single-game PFF grades above 90, with one more of 86.6. He has caught 73.2 [percent] of the passes thrown his way and continues to dominate even when Adam Thielen is missing from the Vikings lineup.
Monson also listed second-team players for each position, and he included Vikings running back Dalvin Cook in that lineup behind first-team selection Derrick Henry (Titans).
Gil Brandt 'not counting Vikings out' from postseason race
As the playoffs loom closer and closer, NFL.com's Gil Brandt took a look at seven "fringe teams" that he's "not counting out" down the stretch: Indianapolis, San Francisco, Arizona, Las Vegas, Baltimore, Minnesota and New England.
The Vikings currently sit at No. 8 in the NFC, one spot out of a Wild Card berth, and in second place in the NFC North behind the Packers (8-3).
For each team, Brandt opined on what he likes and doesn't like. He also provided a general outlook for the final five weeks of the regular season. Brandt highlighted Minnesota's offense "headed by" Cook, Thielen and Jefferson, but he criticized the Vikings "23rd-ranked defense, which is the worst Minnesota has fielded since Mike Zimmer became head coach in 2014."
The Vikings would really be sitting pretty right now if they hadn't laid an egg in a Week 11 home loss to the Cowboys. Still, they have a strong shot to climb back to .500 against the lowly Jaguars and, with the Cardinals and Bears skidding, have a good chance to be in the mix down the stretch. Minnesota's postseason fate may rest on the team's ability to pull off a road upset against either the Bucs or the Saints.
The Vikings remaining schedule is as follows: vs. Jaguars, at Buccaneers, vs. Bears, at Saints, at Lions.
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