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Lunchbreak: Sessler Predicts Vikings to 'Be a Factor' in December

The Vikings have a chance on Monday Night Football, on the road in Chicago, to net a third straight division win and improve to 4-5 on the season.

While the potential record might not seem like anything flashy, Minnesota has gained some momentum since sitting at 1-5 during its bye week.

NFL.com's Marc Sessler highlighted the Vikings in his "Hot or Not" article that made predictions for the season's second half. He wrote:

After Minnesota's ugly loss to the previously winless Falcons in Week 6, I wrote this in a flurry about the 1-5 Vikings: "I don't believe in them. Sitting less than a fortnight away from November, I don't consider it knee-jerky to full-on GHOST this team as an observer. Barring a seismic change to the scenery, I will not be mentioning the Vikings in this column again until their season comes to an unholy end."

Here's where your Friendly Neighborhood Rube backpedals via keyboard to acknowledge an error in judgment.

Sessler said Minnesota's season "appeared washed" when the team traded defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to Baltimore, but "reality was based somewhere else: Dalvin Cook."

The hard-charging runner who missed that Falcons failure returned after the bye to ice Green Bay with 226 total yards and four scores before unfurling another 252 yards against the Lions on Sunday. With the Bears, Cowboys, Panthers and Jaguars up next, life remains full of possibilities for a Vikings team that will sit at 6-6 at worst if they win at least three of those confrontations. When I see a club running the ball with fury in November, I rule nothing out. The Vikings will remain a factor into December.

New elementary school to be named after Justice Alan Page

A new elementary school – currently under construction on the site of Maplewood Middle School – will open in September 2022 and will be named Justice Alan Page Elementary.

Anthony Lonetree of the Star Tribune wrote about the school whose namesake is after the former Purple People Eater.

Most know Alan Page as an NFL Hall of Famer and retired Minnesota Supreme Court justice. But to students in the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District, he also is a visitor who reads children's books.

The books are those he co-wrote, and in recognition of Page's contributions to literacy and a scholarship fund he created, the district is naming a new school after him.

"Justice Page has been a friend to District 622 and a supporter to many of our alumni and staff of color in their pursuit of higher education," Superintendent Christine Tucci Osorio said in a news release. "His legacy will have a positive impact on our school community for generations to come."

Page tweeted a photo of himself visiting the future school's site earlier this month:

As Lonetree pointed out, the school is the second to be named after Page. In 2017, students at the previously named Ramsey Middle School (Minneapolis) campaigned to have it renamed Justice Page Middle School.

Josh Anderson, a spokesman for the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale district, said Friday the school system has been home to "Page Scholars," students of color who have received higher-education grants from the Page Education Foundation. The foundation also provides middle-schoolers with leadership opportunities as they prepare for high school.

'The Athletic' Vikings takeaways include praise for Zimmer & offensive line

Following the Vikings 34-20 rout of the Lions on Sunday, Chad Graff of The Athletic put together 10 takeaways from the contest, including one we won't dispute: Dalvin Cook is the best running back in football.

But aside from Cook, what else did Graff spotlight?

Among his observations was praise for Minnesota's offensive line and for Head Coach Mike Zimmer. Graff wrote of the Vikings men up front:

[For] the first time in recent memory, there should be confidence (even if it's only a small amount) that the Vikings offensive line can somewhat manage the Bears. Ever since Ezra Cleveland replaced Dru Samia as the team's right guard, they've made major strides. Handling the Lions isn't going to turn any heads, but they played well against the Packers, too.

It's not a group that's going to be confused for one of the best offensive lines in the league. But you can win with these five linemen.

Again, I'll stress that this is all a moot point if the Bears do to the Vikings offensive line what they've done during recent trips to Chicago. But they're at least offering hope headed to Soldier Field.

As for Zimmer, Graff said the head coach "still has his 'A' game."

When Zimmer gathered his fellow defensive assistants Monday morning to recap the game, he offered some encouragement. He told them that this was probably the best coaching job of their lives.

"And we're still giving up 400 yards a game," Zimmer said. "It's a work in progress, but I think some of these guys are getting better."

It can sound a bit odd that Zimmer is touting their coaching while admitting the struggles on the field. But he's right. It doesn't take an expert to see that the Vikings defense has adjusted and improved since the beginning of the season.

Zimmer has realized that he can't ask these corners to play on an island. He has to play more Cover-2 with the team's two talented safeties playing deep to help out the corners. That means the Vikings are more susceptible to getting beat underneath. But that's a tradeoff Zimmer is willing to make.

His goal for this group is to bend but not break. Allow teams to complete 6-yard passes, not 60-yard passes. Then be stout on third down and in the red zone. It worked on Sunday.

To see all 10 of Graff's takeaways, click here.

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