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With a 2-2 start in the books, the Vikings now travel to New York to play the Giants in a game that seems more important now than at season’s beginning.
When we all looked at the schedule, many of us put the Vikings where they are, at .500 after four games. Win it home in Atlanta. Maybe a win at Green Bay, maybe not. Win at home against Oakland. Lose to Bears in Chicago.
In 2018, Minnesota was 1 – 2 – 1 after four games, then headed to of all places, Philadelphia to play the Eagles, the team that had humiliated them in the 2017 NFC Championship Game.
But Zimmer’s boys mashed out a win in Philly, by hammering QB Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense, taking a 17-3 halftime lead and then coasting to victory. After two more wins, they stood at 4-2 and came home to play the New Orleans Saints; all things possible concerning the NFC North and beyond.
This year, Minnesota simply has to do the same thing, but this time in New York.
The New Jints
Minnesota will have the advantage of facing a team not as talented as that 2018 Eagles squad–but still one that deserves no less than the Vikings’ best effort on Sunday.
With Eli Manning benched and moving into NFL posterity, rookie quarterback Daniel Jones has shown the aptitude and skill to beat both Tampa Bay and Washington, even without 2018 Rookie-of-the Year and the league’s best running back in Saquon Barkley, who is sidelined with an ankle injury.
New York does get the benefit of a returning wide receiver Golden Tate, suspended for the first four games of 2019 for PED offenses.
Minnesota fans should know Tate well, as a Detroit Lion (2014-2018) he was an absolute Viking killer, and as a Seattle Seahawk he won a Super Bowl in 2013. If he still has wheels, he’ll need to be kept from making rookie QB Jones more of a story than he already is with an exceptional Sunday receiving performance.
If this Vikings’ team can return to some semblance of the offensive form that they showed in nearly every quarter of the season except for the entirety of last week’s Bears game, a win shouldn’t be a terribly traumatic ordeal. Minnesota will be facing a Giants’ defense ranked 25th in the league against the pass, and 19th against the run. A far cry from the howling Bears of Soldier Field.
From there, a 3-2 Vikings team would travel home to host a 2-2 Philadelphia Eagles team, take a familiar trip to Detroit to play the 2-1-1 Lions, and finally return to US Bank Stadium for a gimme against the winless Washington Redskins.
Can Minnesota play football like they started the season against? Can they exhibit some improvement in offensive balance between their run and pass game?
Of course they can–and they can find their 2019 season right back in front of them.
But this is a tough week, and New York is a tough place.
Mike Zimmer and his Vikings need to show that they’re tougher still and get back to winning football games.