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Lunchbreak: The Athletic Praises Kendricks, Says Vikings Could Go on a Run

The Vikings will hit the midway point of their 2020 season Sunday, as Minnesota hosts Detroit from U.S. Bank Stadium.

With the Vikings coming off a big win over the Packers in Week 8, Chad Graff of The Athletic recently looked at some takeaways from that game, and also offered a look ahead at what the next handful of games could bring for Minnesota.

Graff handed out kudos to Eric Kendricks, as he wrote that the Vikings linebacker "can do it all."

Graff noted that Kendricks, who received a game grade of 90.7 from analytics website Pro Football Focus, especially stood out in pass coverage.

At the end of the third quarter, the Packers got the exact look they wanted. They faced first-and-30 after back-to-back holding calls. Because the Vikings were playing a version of Tampa-2 coverage, the Packers knew they had star receiver Davante Adams lined up against linebacker Eric Kendricks. That should be an advantage for the Packers every single time, especially considering Adams was running a deep route.

But Kendricks ran in stride with Adams, helping foil what would've been a huge play.

"That was my guy," Kendricks said. "I was running downfield with him. If he would've come over the middle a little bit more, I might've taken a look at the ball. I knew that the ball was coming based on the way he kind of looked and the way he felt. I just tried to be patient, look at his hands, played his hands, and it worked out."

Kendricks is having another strong season after becoming an All-Pro a year ago. And you know who's taken notice? The quarterback who goes against him in practice every week.

"He's one of my favorite players," Cousins said. "I say that when my boys, Cooper and Turner, are old enough, I'm going to get them Eric Kendricks jerseys because he's the player I want my kids to wear the jersey of. I just think he's as good of a linebacker as there is in the league, the way he can cover a Davante Adams down the middle of the field and also take on a pulling guard, to be that versatile and that athletic, it's special."

Graff's takeaways from Sunday's win also included a monstrous performance from Dalvin Cook, and that Justin Jefferson drew plenty of attention from Green Bay's secondary.

But Graff also noted that with the Vikings currently at 2-5, he believes the team can go on a run over the next month to get to .500 and put themselves in the mix for a potential playoff spot.

Graff noted that a "6-6 start isn't out of the question" for the Vikings.

OK, this may have sounded crazy before Sunday. But it's not out of the realm of possibilities that the Vikings end up at 6-6 entering December.

The Vikings' upcoming games are against the Detroit Lions (3-4), Chicago Bears (5-3), Dallas Cowboys (2-6), Carolina Panthers (3-5), and Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6), with all but the Bears game at home.

The Vikings may not be a Super Bowl contender. But they can beat those teams if they play like they did Sunday.

Minnesota's current strength of schedule for opponents played so far in 2020 is at .580, which is the toughest among all NFC teams.

Cook ranked among NFL's top offensive players

It wasn't a surprise that Cook earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors for his big day in Green Bay, as the running back posted 226 scrimmage yards and four total touchdowns.

And it wasn't a surprise when Cook cracked David Carr's recent ranking of the NFL's top offensive players.

Cook came in at No. 13 on the list by the analyst and former quarterback.

If anyone was still questioning Dalvin Cook's value to the Vikings offense, they should stop now. He single-handedly beat the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field with 226 scrimmage yards and four scrimmage TDs. With 11 total touchdowns in six games this season, Cook had the Vikings hanging with Aaron Rodgers and Packers through the first half before pulling away in the second half. It was the best Minnesota has looked offensively all season.

Cook ranks second in the league with 652 rushing yards despite playing just six games. He leads all players with 11 total touchdowns, including 10 rushing, which is a franchise record for the most through Week 8 of a season.