Minnesota (11-3) has two remaining regular-season games, both against division opponents. The Vikings will travel to Green Bay for a Lambeau Field showdown this Saturday evening before returning to U.S. Bank Stadium to close out the year against Chicago on Dec. 31.
Kevin Patra of NFL.com highlighted the Vikings win and current position in the NFC. He said Minnesota "dominated every phase of the game" against Head Coach Mike Zimmer's former team, which earned the Viking a second division title in three years. Patra wrote:
Behind a devouring defense, chain-moving offense and play-making special teams, Sunday's victory was essentially settled before the end of the first quarter. Moving to 11-3, the win keeps the Vikings in line for a potential first-round bye and possibly leapfrogging the Carson Wentz-less Eagles for the top spot in the NFC. With games against the Packers and Bears left, Zimmer's well-oiled machine is in a great position to become the first team in NFL history to play a home game in the Super Bowl.
Patra specifically emphasized the performance of Minnesota's offense behind Case Keenum, whom he said "peppered a banged-up Cincinnati defense for big plays" and later allowed Teddy Bridgewater to play his first regular-season snaps in almost two years.
Shurmur's game plan created success against Bengals
Jerick McKinnon on Sunday became the first Vikings running back since 2004 to hit 100 yards receiving, and Latavius Murray also contributed in the passing game. Together, the duo combined for 242 yards from scrimmage and helped Minnesota roll to its 11th win of the season.
Matthew Coller of 1500ESPN.com credited Vikings Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur with writing up the perfect game plan for a banged-up Bengals defense. Coller wrote:
Shurmur was well aware of the Bengals weakness at linebacker, where star Vontaze Burfict was out with a concussion and Cincinnati was forced to start two rookies – one undrafted, the other a sixth-round pick. The Vikings abused them with play-action throws and screen passes.
Per [analytics site] Pro Football Focus … 186 of [Keenum's] 236 yards (77.1 percent) came after the catch.
Coller quoted Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, who commented following the game:
"They had some new linebackers in there, and when they're playing man-to-man, we thought we had an opportunity to get some plays."
Coller highlighted Minnesota's success at the goal line after the team struggled in the red zone last week at Carolina, and he took a look at Stefon Diggs' 20-yard touchdown.
On the play, Diggs lined up inside as McKinnon set up at a wide receiver spot, giving an advantage to the Vikings star receiver. Shurmur has been excellent all season at creating matchups by using motion or with running backs/tight ends/fullbacks lined up in receiver spots.
Vikings teammates take to social media after clinching division
The Vikings locker room made its celebrations brief Sunday afternoon before re-focusing and looking ahead to greater goals.
Directly following the win and clinching of the division title, however, a number of teammates took to social media to express their excitement and share captured moments of the post-game excitement.