The Vikings stand at 5-3 halfway through the 2016 season and have eight games remaining to mount a push for the postseason.
Ben Goessling, who covers the team for ESPN.com, gave Minnesota a grade of a 'B' for a rollercoaster first half of the season that saw the Vikings withstand a plethora of injuries and start the year with five straight wins.
The Vikings started out 5-0, weathering what could have been a crippling slate of injuries with resourcefulness and ingenuity. Three straight losses to Philadelphia, Chicago and Detroit, though, have muted the Super Bowl talk at least for now. The Vikings' offensive line issues have been brought to the forefront in recent weeks -- partially by injuries, but also by players who underperformed when they were healthy -- and those issues contributed directly to the Eagles and Bears losses. The Vikings are where they are at the halfway point because of the league's best defense, but they've got plenty of work ahead of them.
Goessling also handed out a midseason MVP award to quarterback Sam Bradford, who has made seven starts with Minnesota so far this season. Bradford has completed 166 of 243 passes (68.3 percent) for 1,715 yards with nine touchdowns and an interception. His quarterback rating of 99.0 ranks seventh in the NFL.
When the Vikings sent a first-round pick to the Eagles for Bradford on Sept. 3, it was seen as a bold move to try to save the season following Teddy Bridgewater's knee injury. But even the Vikings probably couldn't have predicted how well Bradford would play in his first four games, leading the team to a 5-0 start after Shaun Hill started the opener. Bradford has thrown only one interception all season, and has posted a [99.0] passer rating even while playing behind a leaky offensive line. The Vikings' fortunes, for this year and possibly beyond, are in his hands.
Goessling noted that the Vikings best moment this season was a Week 2 win over the Packers in the debut of U.S. Bank Stadium.
He also said that Minnesota's outlook for the final eight games is positive if the Vikings can be more consistent on offense.
Newman willing to play nickel back again if needed
Vikings cornerback Terence Newman filled in at nickel back in Sunday's loss to the Lions after Captain Munnerlyn left the game with an injury.
Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press chatted with Newman on Monday as the veteran cornerback said he'd be willing to help out at the position again if necessary.
*Munnerlyn was lost for the game after just six plays in Sunday's 22-16 loss to Detroit at U.S. Bank Stadium. Coach Mike Zimmer said Monday that Munnerlyn had an MRI that was negative and he is "day- to-day" with a sprained ankle. *
*With Munnerlyn out, Zimmer first turned to Mackensie Alexander as his slot cornerback, but the rookie struggled. So Zimmer then went with Newman, a starter, at the nickel while playing Trae Waynes on the outside. *
"It was something that was kind of a spur-of-the-moment deal," Newman said Monday. "They needed me to go in there, and I went in there. I made mistakes, but I competed, and that's all they can ask us to. I don't know Cap's deal, but if it's something they need me to do going forward for a little bit, I'll do it."
The 38-year-old Newman, a first-round draft pick in 2003, has one interception this season.