Points on the Purple: Vikings look to build off big road win
LIMBECK: Well Captain Purple, can Vikings fans breathe a deep sigh of relief? Can Vikings fans point to last week’s big win in Philadelphia over the Eagles as a possible turning point to the season? The Vikings had been up and down plenty during the first four weeks. But they went to Philly last week, exercised some demons, and collected a big 23-21 win that improved their record to 2-2-1. It was the type of road performance that should inspire the Vikings with confidence and possibly set the tone for a nice extended victory run.
FELDMAN: The Vikings team we’ve seen in the past two games is the one we expected to see this year. They went on the road and went toe-to-toe with the best team in the NFC, then beat the defending Super Bowl champs on their home field. And they’ve played well the past two weeks while still showing some weaknesses. The running game is nowhere to be found. The pass rush finally showed up in Philly after being MIA for a month. And the special teams continue to be anything but special. BUT, my oh my, Helmet Hair. Kirk Cousins is proving to be worth all $84 million he’s guaranteed. He’s saved this team’s bacon.
LIMBECK: Do you remember hearing comments last year about how Case Keenum was making Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs better players? Somehow me thinks it might have been the other way around. Thielen and Diggs are both have stellar years, especially Thielen, who is having a monster year. A knock on Cousins was he didn’t have Keenum’s mobility and would be crushed behind Minnesota’s weak offensive line. Cousins might not be as mobile, but he has stood tall in the pocket and delivered some absolute dimes with defenders in his face. That’s a great sign. One thing that’s not great regarding the Vikings’ ground game has been the lack of durability of RB Dalvin Cook. How big of a concern is that?
FELDMAN: Cook was back at practice as a full participant Thursday. So that’s good news? Cook hasn’t been a pro for two full seasons and we already have to question his durability on a weekly basis. Of course, he’s playing behind a line that looks like it’s at 60 percent, even when it’s at 100 percent. The good news is, the Vikings may not need to use Cook a whole lot this week against a struggling Arizona club. Of course, the last time we thought the Vikes were a sure bet, they helped Leslie Frazier earn a game ball. Let’s hope they don’t do the same this week for another guy with Minnesota ties, Larry Fitzgerald.
LIMBECK: Speaking of guys who are banged up, that not only includes Fitzgerald but also three-fifths of the Cardinals offensive line. The Cardinals, like the Bills a couple of weeks back, have a rookie at quarterback. The Vikings can’t afford to let Josh Rosen get comfy in the pocket. They need to bring the heat against the QB and make his life miserable. The thing about the game against the Bills, the Vikings had just learned they’d be without DE Everson Griffen. The team has had time to adjust to playing without one of their defensive leaders. The Vikings shouldn’t be playing dumbfounded this time around.
FELDMAN: They won’t be. They figured out a way to get pressure on the QB without rushing five or six guys last week. Danielle Hunter was outstanding and Stephen Weatherly showed that his impressive preseason was no fluke. And we haven’t even mentioned that Linval Joseph, the self-described Big Goon, took a fumble return 64 yards to the house. Who knew the big man had such agility and speed? He just moved up to No. 2 on the running back depth chart.
LIMBECK: If it’s a race between Big Hungry and Captain Purple to the buffet line, I’m picking Big Hungry every time. He might even gobble you up along the way. I think the Vikings will gobble up Arizona this week as well. The Vikings should have learned a hard lesson against the Bills that they can’t just show up and win. If Cousins can hold onto the ball, that shouldn’t be a problem: Vikings 27, Cardinals 16.
FELDMAN: Rosen did what he needed to do a week ago in the Cards win against a San Francisco team led by equally green CJ Beathard. But his 49.2 completion percentage isn’t scaring anyone. Except maybe Cardinals fans. He made one beautiful throw, on the game’s first play for a 75-yard TD. Aside from that, the two TD drives he led went 18 yards (after a Niners fumble) and 26 yards (after an interception). So you’re right, Helmet Hair. If the Vikes hold onto the ball, they win. And they will: Vikings 31, Cardinals 17.