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Monday Morning Mailbag: Assessing the Loss in KC, Bouncing Back Against Dallas and Looking at NFC Playoff Picture

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Who cost the Vikings the game?

— Jonathan Yeager

It wasn't any one player specifically. When you play a hard-fought game and lose on a field goal at the buzzer, everything gets taken into consideration. Each phase of the team will look at itself and say it could have done more.

Offensively, the Vikings will lament not scoring a touchdown at the end of the first half and only settling for a field goal. The offense also struggled to find its rhythm all day long, as Kirk Cousins completed just half of his 38 pass attempts.

Defensively, the Vikings played well at times but were burned by big plays, as the Chiefs scored both of their touchdowns on explosive plays of 40 and 91 yards. Of the 377 yards of offense for Kansas City, 202 of them came on just four plays. Minnesota also had a chance to prevent a late field goal but couldn't get a stop in the final minute.

And on special teams, Dan Bailey missed an extra point and Britton Colquitt has his worst punt of the day with less than two minutes remaining. After having a strong game, Colquitt's final directional attempt traveled 27 yards before crossing the out-of-bounds line. The punt gave the Chiefs the ball in Minnesota territory before the game-winning field goal.

So no, it wasn't just one player who cost the Vikings a chance to get their fifth consecutive win. It was a lack of execution in multiple aspects undermining positive plays.

On to the Cowboys...that should be interesting to see how the Vikings bounce [back]...

— Dagan Martland

As tough as Sunday's loss was, there is no time to dwell on it, not with a prime-time matchup at Dallas coming up. But you are correct, Dagan, in that we will find out a lot about the Vikings with how they respond from a hard-fought defeat.

Minnesota is 19-15 following a loss since 2014 under Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, including a 2-0 record so far in 2019. You can bet Zimmer will have his team ready to go for another tough road game, especially since it's against a team Zimmer spent 13 seasons with as a defensive coach.

The Vikings have plenty of veterans who know that the NFL is a week-to-week league, and that you can't let the previous result — win or lose — carry into the next game. Plus, it's November now, and the Vikings know that games against fellow NFC teams carry extra weight when it comes to playoff seeding at the end of the season.

Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Cowboys.

As I see it, we need to win at least 2 of the next 3 games — Cowboys, Broncos and Seahawks. We need to win 3 of the last 4 games to make the playoffs. Record of 11-5 will be good enough for playoff berth. Tough loss [Sunday].

— Mike Boswell

Speaking of the playoff chase, Mike lays out his prediction here for what he expects to happen over the final two months of the season.

To recap, here's where things stand now in the NFC North: Green Bay is alone in first place at 7-2, followed by the 6-3 Vikings. The Lions are 3-4-1 and the Bears are 3-5.

If the season ended today, Minnesota would be the No. 6 seed, regardless of what happens tonight between the Cowboys and Giants on Monday Night Football. The NFC already has four teams with seven or more wins, meaning Mike's projections of needing double-digit wins to make the postseason could easily be accurate.

San Francisco (8-0), New Orleans (7-1), Green Bay (7-2) and Dallas (4-3) are the respective division leaders. Seattle is 7-2 and would be the No. 5 seed if the season ended today.

The Vikings have seven games remaining, with three of them against teams who would be in the playoffs as of today in Green Bay, Dallas and Seattle.

Minnesota also has five games left against fellow NFC opponents, as those are extra important with the Vikings knowing the value of intra-conference wins. The Vikings are currently 5-2 against the NFC, with both losses coming in the division.

The opportunity will be there for the Vikings to control their own destiny for a playoff spot. Stack up some wins against fellow NFC teams over the next two months, and Minnesota could easily find itself back in the playoffs for the third time in five seasons under Zimmer.