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Lunchbreak: Dalvin Cook Moves Up NFL.com’s Offensive Rankings

Dalvin Cook is movin’ on up.

On the stat sheet as well as in offensive player power rankings, put together each week on NFL.com by former quarterback David Carr.

After being ranked fourth overall last week, Cook was bumped up to the No. 3 spot after his performance against the Lions on Sunday. Carr wrote:

Cook bounced off Detroit defenders left and right on the way to 142 rushing yards and two TDs on 25 carries. His ability to make something out of nothing continuously puts the Vikings offense in positive situations. Minnesota is 8-1 in Cook’s career when he rushes for at least 85 yards, and with the way he’s playing, I only see that win total climbing.

The only two players ranked above Cook? Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, who through six games has 127 carries for 618 yards and seven touchdowns. He also has 305 receiving yards and two scores through the air.

Carr left Wilson in the top spot despite a less-than-stellar performance Sunday. He said the following of the veteran QB, whom the Vikings will face on the road on Monday Night Football, coming off the bye in Week 13:

Wilson and the Seahawks offense were stalled all game by the Ravens in a 30-16 loss. This was by far the quarterback’s worst performance of the season, featuring both his first INT of the year and his first sub-100.0 passer rating (65.2). You have to credit Baltimore for taking away the run game and scoring off a turnover (a pick-six by Marcus Peters). It feels like all the candidates in the MVP race have faltered at some point. Hopefully, Wilson’s latest performance doesn’t repeat itself.

Cousins is making a case for himself

Each week before listing his power rankings, Carr also highlights a specific player or storyline, this time around focusing in on Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.

Carr said that he expects Cousins “to meet the challenge” of playing Washington on Thursday Night Football tomorrow night and later added that fans “should fully buy in to Cousins’ turnaround” over the past three games.

Cousins told reporters after Sunday’s win over Detroit, “The last few weeks have been a little more open it up and let it fire.” That's exactly what I've seen.

[…]

Cousins' confidence level is also at an all-time high, as it should be. With Dalvin Cook leading one of the best run games in the league, Cousins and his receivers have taken advantage of defenses with play-action – an area where Cousins has thrived his entire career.

[…]

Minnesota's offense has become a well-oiled machine over three weeks, and again, Cousins' confidence level makes me believe he can take this team where it wants to go. That starts with playing well Thursday in prime time – an area where Cousins has faltered in the past. For his career, the 31-year-old is 5-13 in prime-time contests. But he’ll get two chances to change that prime-time narrative in his next three games, between this week's game against Washington and a Sunday Night Football matchup with the Cowboys in Week 10.

In this offense, he can absolutely change his prime-time narrative and has all the tools to maintain his recent elite level to put the Vikings in good position down the stretch. Cousins has made me a believer, and I don't think I'll get fooled this time.

View images of the Vikings equipment staff getting the team's Primetime Purple uniforms ready for this Thursday's game against the Redskins.

O’Neill lands in PFF’s top 10 among 2nd-year NFL players

Vikings right tackle Brian O’Neill, a second-round draft pick in 2018, was thrown into the fire as a rookie and handled the heat just fine.

O’Neill has consistently been praised by analytics site Pro Football Focus, and most recently he was included in PFF’s “top 25 second-year players” list.

PFF’s Ben Linsey ranked O’Neill ninth overall, saying he is “deserving” of the compliment. Linsey wrote:

He currently sits one spot behind Braden Smith at eighth in overall grade among qualifying right tackles. Since the start of 2018, O’Neill has gone 705 pass-blocking snaps without allowing a single sack. He is the only tackle with 500 or more pass-blocking snaps over that span that has yet to be credited with a sack as his fault. It’s hard to find fault with that.

O’Neill is one of four offensive linemen included in the top 10, joining Colts guard Quenton Nelson (No. 1), Lions center Frank Ragnow (No. 4) and Colts tackle Braden Smith (No. 7).

No other second-year Vikings were spotlighted by Linsey.

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