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Monday Morning Mailbag: Coin Flips, Conflicting Interests & Defensive Day

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Plenty of important topics to discuss. How about this one? Is it just me or are the Vikings winning a lot of coin flips this year?

Also, Zimmer has been critiqued in the past for not playing rookies. I think we can throw that concept out the window.

Of course it's all about the Vikings winning these last games, but I didn't know which way to cheer in the Rams-Seahawks game. Did I want Seattle to lose so the Vikings might have a better chance at a top seed? Or did I want the Rams to lose to prevent a catch up in the wild card scenario? Not that it matters now.

— Jeff in Sacramento

Lots to get to from Jeff, but let's start with the most pressing topic: coin flips! The Vikings won the toss Sunday, and have now won an impressive four straight coin flips. On the season, Minnesota has won eight of 13 times. And an interesting final note, the winner of all 13 coin flips has deferred, meaning teams prefer to start on defense and get the ball to open the second half.

Talking about rookies, a bunch of first-year players have stepped up for the Vikings in 2019. Bisi Johnson had an athletic touchdown catch Sunday and now has three scores on the year. Garrett Bradbury, Irv Smith, Jr., and Alexander Mattison have all impressed on offense, while youngsters Armon Watts (defense) and Kris Boyd (special teams) have also made their mark.

Sam Newton of Vikings PR tweeted out a good note about the rookies:

And finally, as Jeff noted, you can make a case on rooting for either team in Sunday night's game that the Rams won. Los Angeles (8-5) remained a game behind Minnesota (9-4) in vying for the final Wild Card spot.

You'll probably be in the same scenario this Sunday, too, when the Bears visit the Packers. Do we want Chicago to win and help the Vikings in the division race? Or do we want a Green Bay win to help Minnesota's overall chances of getting into the playoffs?

That should make for some fun debates this week around the water cooler.

Outstanding defense...they need to all share game ball...offense played excellent time management football...Kirk was on point...nice to see Boone playing.

— Nicholas Balkou

Give plenty of credit to the defense in this one, even if the performance came against a third-string quarterback in David Blough. Remember, Blough looked pretty good against a stout Bears defense on Thanksgiving Day.

Linval Joseph talked in the locker room after the game about how the defense wanted to set the tone early, and they did so by allowing 21 total yards on Detroit's first 16 offensive plays. It actually took the Lions until their 41st offensive play to reach 100 yards of total offense.

Danielle Hunter stole the show with his historic three-sack performance, but as you said, give credit to the entire defense in this one. The Vikings rotated cornerbacks in throughout the game, stopped the run and didn't allow any points until there were only two minutes left in the game.

It was a sign of improvement for a unit that has been up and down in 2019, but will need to be at its best during this push for the playoffs.

Kirk Cousins explained after the game that the goals for the offense as the game progressed shifted from putting up points to playing error-free football. Minnesota held the ball for more than 33 minutes a week after possessing it for just 20:15 in Seattle.

Mike Boone, who had rushed just three times this season, got five carries for 13 yards in the fourth quarter to take some of load off of Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison.

Very boring & disappointing game for as bad as the Motor City Kittys are … the Vikings should have beat them 40-0!!! My guess [is] we will have our hands full in L.A. with the Chargers and probably get beat.

— Billy Barnaby

Not all wins are going to be pretty, but that hardly matters at this time of the year. The Vikings inched closer to a playoff spot with Sunday's win, and that suits them just fine.

Left guard Pat Elflein had this to say about quarterback Kirk Cousins after the game, but he might as well have been speaking about all of his teammates.

"He just likes winning," Elflein said. "So, whatever it takes to win, that's all he cares about. He tells us, 'Whatever we have to do to stick together … let's get a win.' All he cares about is winning."

Similar to wins over the Falcons and Raiders at home, the Vikings built a double-digit lead at halftime and then coasted to a victory the rest of the way. Case in point: Cousins attempted just 10 passes in the second half when the Vikings had 20 rushing attempts.

With the defense playing as well as it did Sunday, the offense didn't need to be flashy.

Bud Grant is a legendary coach for the Minnesota Vikings, but he's also a legendary coach for CFL's Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Last month, the Blue Bombers won the Grey Cup. Does Bud Grant follow his old team anymore? Did he enjoy the Blue Bombers title win?

— Kevin Bartman

Appreciate the question on Bud, who is beloved as ever by Vikings fans young and old. For those not in the know, Kevin is referring to Winnipeg's recent 33-12 win over Hamilton in the Grey Cup at the end of November.

Bud has always spoken proudly of his time and success in the Canadian Football League, and of how it helped shape him into a coach that led the Vikings to four Super Bowls appearances in an eight-year span.

And he's still as smart as ever, even at the young age of 92. I'm sure Bud could not only tell you about the Blue Bombers' recent CFL win, but also something about the team, too.

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