Minnesota Vikings fans are now at a crossroads. The Vikings are 4-0 after beating the New York Giants Monday night.
They’re expected to be 5-0 heading into their bye week as they’ll be favored to beat the Houston Texans on Sunday. The Vikings defense is dominating opponents, and the offense is doing enough to win games despite several key injuries.
So do fans go all-in and start to have Super Bowl expectations? Or do we keep one toe out of the water wait and for disaster to strike as it always does in Minnesota sports? Monday’s win gives no reason to think disaster is imminent. Here are four takeaways from the win.
Xavier Rhodes Shuts Down Odell Beckham Jr.
Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL and is a threat for an explosive play whenever he is on the field. But he was nothing short of frustrated after being shut down by the combination of Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Terence Newman. Beckham had just three catches for 23 yards, and his longest gain was 10 yards.
There is no limit to what the Vikings’ defense can accomplish if they continue to shut down the game’s top receivers.
Cordarrelle Patterson Makes A Huge Impact
It’s taken some time, but Cordarrelle Patterson seems to have found his role with the Vikings. It started as being the gunner on special teams, being the first defender, yes defender, to have a play on a punt returner. He’s still dangerous as a kick returner, and now that confidence is spreading to him playing wide receiver. He had five catches for 38 yards Monday night. He’s being used mostly in screen plays and short passes that can be stretched with a few missed tackles, and he’s still a threat for a gadget play out of the backfield.
Patterson had two catches for 19 yards all of last season. The Vikings traded four players to get Patterson, and the light bulb appears to be going on for him in the final year of his rookie contract.
Sam Bradford Remains Turnover-Free
The Vikings are 4-0, and Sam Bradford is 3-0 as Minnesota’s starting quarterback. In 16 total quarters, the Vikings haven’t committed an offensive turnover. Think about that. Their only give away was in Week 2 against the Packers when Andrew Sendejo recovered a fumble, then had it stripped away. Bradford has three passing touchdowns and zero interceptions. The Vikings haven’t lost a fumble.
Their plus-10 turnover differential is the best in the NFL. It’s a big reason why they are 4-0. It’s something near that’s nearly impossible to keep up, but the more they protect the football the harder it is to see where they get their first loss. Not only is Bradford not turning the ball over, he’s getting more comfortable in the Vikings’ offense and getting a little better with every game.
Vikings Defense Frustrates Another Top Quarterback
In four games, the Vikings defense has shut down the following quarterbacks: Marcus Mariota, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Eli Manning. Three of those four are among the best in football. Manning has won two Super Bowls, and the minute he sensed pressure Monday night, the ball went to the turf. He wanted nothing to do with the Vikings’ defensive front seven. That’s despite not getting sacked once, even though he was hurried several times.
The Vikings are becoming an elite defense, and they face Brock Osweiler on Sunday. In four games this year, Osweiler is averaging about 237 passing yards per game, has five touchdowns but also has six interceptions and a 74.8 rating. Many experts say Osweiler has no chance against this hungry unit. If he gets pressured, it could be a long afternoon for the Texans.
Extra: Vikings Ball Boy Makes Amazing Catch
No disrespect to the Vikings wide receivers, but the best catch Monday night might have come from somebody who didn’t play in the game. Sam Bradford was running from pressure and threw a ball out of bounds during Monday nights’ win. A Vikings’ ball boy snared the laser with one hand. A ball boy made a one-handed catch, and acted like it was nothing to see.
The Vikings’ ball boy made an UNREAL one-handed catch that Odell Beckham Jr would be proud of!! pic.twitter.com/MyL5TgsSCZ
— Chat Sports (@ChatSports) October 4, 2016
Fear not, Vikings fans. It might be finally OK to fully invest in this team. Mike Zimmer doesn’t appear to even have the thought of a letdown in his mind. It’s not an option.