(CBS Minnesota/CBS Local) — Much of the conversation surrounding the 2-1 Minnesota Vikings and their Week 4 opponent, the 2-1 Chicago Bears, focuses on the quarterback. And Kirk Cousins’ performance so far certainly leaves something to be desired. He’s only thrown 63 passes so far this season. (By comparison, the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers threw 53 last night.) And when asked to lead the offense, he has sometimes faltered, like in his 14-32 showing in Week 2 against those same Packers.
But usually the Vikings don’t ask. “Cousins hasn’t had to do much over the first couple weeks of this season,” notes Rick Ritter, anchor for WJZ in Baltimore and host of the Ravens postgame show Purple Connection. “This team is running through Dalvin Cook, the third-year running back. He finally seems to be healthy. And he’s absolutely torching the NFL right now. The Vikings are only behind the Ravens in rushing offense per game.”
Cook has carried the ball 57 times so far for 375 yards and four touchdowns. He’s averaging 125 rushing yards per game and 6.6 yards per carry, leading both categories by hefty margins, among those RBs with enough carries to matter.
“Cook has certainly looked the part [of a featured back], not only running between the tackles, also catching the ball out of the backfield,” according to Ritter. “And when he can do that, it opens everything else up for them. We know they’ve got studs on the outside, Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen.”
The Bears, who don’t allow many rushing yards, present an interesting threat to the Vikings… and an opportunity for Cousins. Khalil Mack gave the Washington Redskins fits on Monday night, helping to limit Adrian Peterson to just 37 yards. And if he and that stout Bears defense, which hasn’t allowed a 60-yard rusher yet, can contain Cook, then Cousins will need to step up. The game could hinge on it.
“The Bears, [have] one of the top rushing defenses in the League. I’m looking at Cook versus Khalil Mack here. If they can contain Mack, if they can can get Cook going, I think they pull this one out. If they can’t contain Mack, it might be a long day for Kirk Cousins and that Vikings offense.”
The Vikings play the Bears @ 3:25 p.m. CT on CBS.