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Lunchbreak: Vikings Extend Win Streak in Close Games; CBS Grades Day Vs. Cardinals

Last season, 14 of 17 Vikings games ended with a one-score margin.

Of those 14, eight ended in a loss.

After Sunday's 34-26 victory against the Arizona Cardinals, the Vikings moved to 6-1 on the season, pushing their win streak to five consecutive games. Each win during this run has been by one score.

What has been the driving force behind that turnaround?

"I think a lot of guys are relying on a lot of experience," receiver Adam Thielen said. "Experience from last year, experience from previous years in our careers and then the confidence from this year. This team, this family, this bond that we are building."

Matthew Coller of Purple Insider looked at how Minnesota has been able to catapult itself into the current conversation of top teams in the NFL. Coller said it primarily starts with first-year Head Coach Kevin O'Connell.

The hire of O'Connell signified a massive sea change in the way the players were managed. O'Connell's ethos has been to give the players a voice, which has included getting their feedback schematically, pushing them to become closer as a group, express their personalities and manage their health smartly.

"As a group and as a whole we're treated like family and everybody is really like family," outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith said. "We have a younger coach and the coach wants to know what the players want and that's a good thing to have."

"I feel like it's the chemistry," Smith added.

Despite the strong start to the season, the Vikings know there is still plenty to improve. Against Arizona, Minnesota had three offensive drives that ended in sacks, and the Vikings committed 10 penalties. The Vikings also allowed Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to haul in 12 catches for 159 yards and a touchdown.

But the Vikings also capitalized in the big moments. Minnesota turned a fumble recovery by linebacker Troy Dye after a muffed punt and an interception by safety Harrison Smith into touchdowns.

The Vikings then ended the game with consecutive sacks by Za'Darius Smith and defensive tackle Harrison Phillips.

"The feeling you get on our sideline, in our locker room, no matter what the circumstances are, I do feel like these guys believe in each other, they believe in what we're doing … that's a proud feeling for a coach," O'Connell said.

Coller said the Vikings confidence will be challenged over the next few games. He wrote:

As opportunistic as the Vikings were on Sunday, they still haven't faced many tough tests. Out of their five wins, only the victory over Dolphins came against a team with a winning record, and Miami was without its starting quarterback.

The powers of O'Connell's locker room vibes will be tested in the coming weeks as they travel to Washington and Buffalo and then take on the Cowboys at home.

"We have to get a lot better," Thielen said. "You don't want to get overconfident."

View postgame celebration photos from the Vikings 34-26 win over the Arizona Cardinals at U.S. Bank Stadium on Oct. 30.

CBS Sports Gives Out Grades for Week 8

The Vikings stayed unbeaten at home and are just one of three NFL teams to have a perfect home record, joining Philadelphia and Buffalo.

John Breech of CBS Sports recently analyzed every game on Sunday from Week 8 and provided grades for each team. Breech gave the Vikings a "B+" for their game. He wrote:

Minnesota jumped out to a 14-3 lead and then hung on for dear life in this game. When the Vikings are winning games, Justin Jefferson (98 receiving yards) and Dalvin Cook usually have something to do with it and that was the case here. Cook was especially big for Minnesota on Sunday, finishing with 111 yards and a TD on 20 [carries].

Although the Cardinals made things close, the Vikings defense came up with multiple big plays to stymie Arizona's comeback attempts. The defense picked off [Arizona quarterback Kyler] Murray twice in the second half and sacked him a total of four times in this game. It's starting to look like the Vikings are the second-best team in the NFC behind only the Eagles.