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Vikings Squarely in NFC Playoff Picture at Midpoint of 2019 Season

EAGAN, Minn. — Believe it or not, the Vikings are already halfway through the 2019 season.

A campaign that started with a blowout win over Atlanta in Week 1 has already seen its fair share of ups and downs, but the Vikings are riding high at the moment with a 6-2 record and a four-game win streak.

Minnesota started 2-2 — with both losses on the road in the division — as there were some frustrations with the .500 start.

Yet after the Vikings went perfect in the second quarter of 2019 — with four convincing wins — Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer likes where his team is at after Week 8.

"I don't think there was a change in anything after 2-2; I mean, we played hard, we lost a couple games early," Zimmer said. "Obviously everybody feels a little better when you've won four in a row, but we've still got a long way to go, we've got a lot of contending teams that we're going to be playing here in the next eight weeks, and we just have to keep trying to improve and get better every day.

"There's a lot of areas we need to get better at. But I do like the fight in this team, I like the toughness in this team," Zimmer added. "I like the way they compete, and then when they get in tough situations, they seem to figure out a way how to get it done."

View postgame celebration images from Thursday as the Vikings beat the Redskins by a 19-9 score.

Offensively, the Vikings are on a four-game tear in terms of putting up yards. Minnesota has racked up 400-plus yards in each game, with a total of 1,834 total yards in the 4-0 stretch.

Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has led the charge, completing 91 of 116 passes (78.4 percent) for 1,261 yards with 10 touchdowns and an interception. He has a passer rating of 137.1 during that span.

Running back Dalvin Cook has had a stellar first half of 2019. He leads the NFL with 823 rushing yards. He also has nine rushing touchdowns, which ties the franchise record for most rushing scores through the first eight games of any season.

And wide receiver Stefon Diggs' 452 receiving yards over the past three games are the most by any Viking, including Randy Moss, in such a span.

Cousins summed up the first half of the season.

"Pleased with where we're at," Cousins said Thursday night after Minnesota's 19-9 win. "We could easily be worse; we could easily be better.

"We're 6-2. I think we have got everything in front of us, and we've got to go out and prove it the second half of the season," Cousins added. "But we have put ourselves in a position now where the second half of the season is going to be there for the taking, and so that's a really good thing."

The Vikings offense currently ranks fourth in the NFL with 396.5 yards per game.

Minnesota's defense, meanwhile, has been its usually stout self since Zimmer's hire in 2014.

The Vikings rank fifth in both yards allowed per game (313.9) and points allowed per game (16.5).

Defensive end Danielle Hunter has 8.0 sacks in as many games, and linebacker Eric Kendricks has played at a Pro-Bowl level in 2019. Kendricks has a team-high 10 pass breakups.

Minnesota has also seen strong performances from a number of players including Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph, Anthony Barr, Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris.

Kendricks and Barr talked in the Vikings locker room Thursday night about the mindset so far.

"Starting off the season 2-2, everybody was doubting us," Kendricks said. "But we know what we are capable of, and we've got to clean some things up. It definitely shows our hard work."

Added Barr: "We are giving ourselves a good chance and putting ourselves in a good position. It is only half way through the season, so we have to finish strong and stay on the gas."

If the season ended today, the Vikings would be in the playoffs.

Minnesota's 6-2 mark puts the Vikings behind the Packers (6-1) in the NFC North. Entering Week 8, the other current NFC playoff field would also include the 49ers (6-0), Saints (6-1), Cowboys (4-3) and Seahawks (5-2).

The Vikings know there is plenty of work to be done, especially since three of Minnesota's final eight games are against the Cowboys, Seahawks and Packers. The Vikings go to Dallas in Week 10, travel to Seattle in Week 13 and host Green Bay in Week 16.

Minnesota also has half of its division slate left, with each game against the Lions, Packers and Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium.

There is still plenty of work left be done, but at the midpoint of the 2019 season, Minnesota has done enough to be in the conversation as of now.

"We put ourselves in a position for the second half of the season," Cousins said. "It's going to be right there for us and we got to go out and do it. 6-2 doesn't mean a whole lot if you don't turn the last eight games into something special.

"And we've got some big-time games up ahead. These aren't going to be easy opponents," Cousins added. "We're going to be playing in tough environments against really good football teams, so the work doesn't get any easier from here."