4 Positives for the Vikings Despite Their Week 11 Loss
The Minnesota Vikings saw their winning streak come to an end on Sunday night as they lost to the Denver Broncos by a score of 21-20.
The loss was especially frustrating seeing as Minnesota dominated just about every aspect of the game, but a few very untimely turnovers allowed the Broncos to keep hanging around. Then, Courtland Sutton pulled down a big TD catch with a minute left in the fourth quarter to give Denver the lead.
While this fifth loss for the Vikings is a disappointing outcome for a team that is trying to reach the playoffs, there were a few positives for the Vikings from this game. Here is a look at four of them.
4 Positives for the Vikings from Week 11
Ty Chandler’s Growth
Ty Chandler seems to have arrived for Minnesota. Over the past two weeks, the second-year running back has finally gotten extensive snaps with the offense and has made the most of them. After putting together 15 carries for 45 yards and a touchdown last weekend, Chandler had 10 carries for 73 yards on Sunday night. This total included a 32-yard carry on a fake punt during the second half.
For the Vikings to have continued success in the running game, they need to have somebody next to Alexander Mattison who can pick up the slack when he isn’t having a great game. Chandler’s patience in the backfield along with his quick acceleration have made him a very positive player for the Vikings over the past few weeks.
More Terrific Defense
Once again, the Minnesota Vikings put together an outstanding game on the defensive side of the ball. Even with the offense handing Denver a couple short fields, the Vikings limited Denver to five field goals and no touchdowns through the first 58 minutes of the game.
Of course, the group finally broke in the final two minutes as Russell Wilson and Sutton played the hero roles, connecting on a 15-yard TD pass. Even on that touchdown pass, Sutton was tightly covered, but he is simply a much bigger player (6’4″) than Mekhi Blackmon (5’11”).
The defense’s resurgence was a big reason for the Vikings’ five-game winning streak, and they would have been given the biggest chunk of credit if Minnesota had pulled off a win in Denver. If the Vikings are indeed going to make the playoffs and try and make a deep run, this unit will play a huge role in that process. Continued success from this unit has been fun to watch.
Brandon Powell Continues to Intrigue
In the absence of Justin Jefferson over the past six weeks, the Vikings have found a very friendly target in Brandon Powell. Once again, Powell was a huge contributor for Minnesota’s success on offense, catching three passes for 32 yards. Even when Jefferson returns to the field, the Vikings should find a way to continue getting Powell involved in their offense.
Not only has Powell found a role as a receiver, but he has been contributing nicely as a run blocker, opening up some lanes on the outside while being a productive punt returner. He returned three punts for 27 total yards on the night and helped the Vikings begin drives in solid field position.
The NFC Standings Are Within Reach
In the end, not a ton changed for the Vikings in terms of the NFC playoff standings despite the loss. They remain just half a game behind the Seattle Seahawks for the No. 6 seed and are 1.5 games above the Packers, Rams, Falcons, and Buccaneers for the No. 7 spot.
It would have been nice to jump Seattle in the standings, but we also have to keep in mind that the 49ers and Seahawks play twice in the next three weeks. Inevitably, the Vikings will have more chances to jump one of these two teams in the standings by the time early December rolls around.
Of course, they did drop a game behind the Detroit Lions in the NFC North standings, but being 2.5 games back, it is very reasonable to believe that the fight for the division crown will still come down to the two matchups against the Lions.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.