Through eight games, the Vikings rank fifth in yards allowed per game at 313.9. That isn’t a surprise considering the level of play the unit has displayed in recent years.
But Minnesota’s offense also has bragging rights, as Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook and company rank third with 396.5 yards per game.
The Vikings are the only NFL team to rank in the top five in both categories, and Michael Rand of the Star Tribune noted that things feel different in Minnesota so far this season.
Rand recently wrote that, unlike in years past, it appears the Vikings have the horses on offense to keep pace — and win — if a game turns into a shootout.
Rand dug up some numbers on how the Vikings fared when giving up 20 or more points under Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer since 2014.
Coming into this season, that benchmark has been almost as important for Zimmer’s Vikings. Including playoff games, they were 9-26-1 from 2014-18, his first five years as head coach, when allowing an opponent to score 20 points or more.
The Packers record in the same span, by contrast, when allowing 20 or more points: 28-32-1 (and yes, the tie for both teams was against each other last year).
The Vikings mark was an especially unsightly 1-7-1 last season, with untimely defensive lapses combined with the offense’s inability to overcome them dooming the Vikings to being over-reliant on one side of the ball. They were 7-0, after all, when allowing fewer than 20 points.
Minnesota has allowed 20 or more points in three games so far in 2019, and is 2-1 in contests against Green Bay, Philadelphia and Detroit.
Cousins, who won the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for October, has helped lead a potent Vikings offense. He has thrown for 1,997 yards with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions through eight games. His passer rating of 115.1 ranks second in the NFL.
Cook leads the NFL with 823 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs have combined for 64 receptions for 1,097 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The Vikings on Sunday face the Chiefs, who may be with or without starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Kansas City’s offense has shown to be lethal when Mahomes plays, as the Chiefs have averaged 416.3 yards and 33.1 points per game in his 24 career starts.
But as the Vikings have shown this season with five game of at least 28 points, Minnesota can certainly score points with anyone if the situation calls for it.
Vikings draft class ranked 5th in NFL at midway point
When the Vikings drafted a whopping 12 players back in April, the hope was that a sizable number of them could make an impact right away.
Halfway through the 2019 season, the group of rookies have done their part, especially the offensive players selected in the early rounds.
Chris Wesseling of NFL.com recently ranked the top rookie classes in the NFL and had the Vikings at No. 5 on his list.
After a sluggish start to his NFL career, first-round center Garrett Bradbury has keyed a ground game that seems to grow stronger by the week. The Vikes boast the league's most productive backfield duo in Dalvin Cook and third-round power back Alexander Mattison, combining for 1,154 yards, 10 touchdowns and 5.1 yards per carry on 224 rushes. A one-dimensional offense that finished last season at No. 18 in Football Outsiders' efficiency rankings has been upgraded to No. 5 at the midpoint of 2019, thanks in no small part to a bumper crop of rookies.
An injury to Pro Bowl wideout Adam Thielen would have sunk Kirk Cousins' aerial attack in years past. Cousins can survive and even thrive this time around with second-round tight end Irv Smith Jr. and seventh-round wideout Bisi Johnson earning the quarterback's trust and making plays.
Bradbury, a first-rounder, has played each of Minnesota’s 522 offensive snaps so far in 2019, while Smith, Jr. (a second-round pick) has 15 catches for 174 yards. Mattison has 68 rushing attempts for 331 yards (4.9 yards per carry) and a touchdown.
Johnson was a seventh-round pick. He has 17 catches for 147 yards and a score.
View Vikings practice images from October 30 as the team prepares for the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
Kendricks, sacks help raise dollars to fight childhood hunger.
The Vikings went a perfect 4-0 in the month of October, racking up 12 total sacks on defense in the four victories.
Besides helping Minnesota move to 60-2, those quarterback takedowns also helped a good cause.
Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks embarked on a Sacktober campaign in October, with money being raised for each sack.
Kendricks helped raise more than $6,000 through the campaign, and Cargill pledged an additional $15,000 for the cause.
The money will go to The Sheridan Story, which partners with local schools to provide food on the weekends, when children aren’t able to receive free and reduced meal programs at school.