We’ve learned over time that there are no guarantees on anything that relates to expectations of better days and future bigger events. Sunday’s first big Division test for the Vikings was part of the first sign — good or bad, positive or negative — in testing the strength of the NFC North.
The current appears to be strong. The Detroit Lions improved to 3-1 with Sunday’s 14-7 defensive stand. It’s the second year in a row the Lions have come into U.S. Bank Stadium and beaten the Vikings.
Last weekend was the beginning of Divisional games across the NFL East and West, North and South. Last year the Lions swept the Vikings, and that went a long way in helping them secure a playoff spot.
Since the Vikings joined the NFL in 1961, they have beaten the Lions more often than any of their other Division rivals — Chicago and Green Bay — head to head. The Vikings play Chicago and Green Bay in the next two weeks.
The Vikings are 71-39 all-time versus the Lions. Head Coach Mike Zimmer has now slipped to just 2-5 against Detroit. Just a quarter of the season has now been played, and only one of the 32 NFL teams remains unbeaten; that’s Kansas City at 4-0. The Vikings slipped to 2-2 and now trail 3-1 Green Bay and 3-1 Detroit in the Division.
Again, for the third straight week, the Vikings played without starting quarterback Sam Bradford, who is out with a knee injury. Quarterback Case Keenum started for the third straight game; he is now 1-2 in his role. In both losses the Vikings have failed offensively, scoring just nine points and seven points in losses to Pittsburgh and Detroit respectively.
The Vikings confirmed the worst possible news for star running back rookie Dalvin Cook. The explosive rookie sustained a left knee injury in Sunday’s game in the third quarter. The MRI on Monday revealed a torn ACL injury to his left knee. He will miss the rest of the season.
Cook was among the NFL’s leading rushers with 354 yards and two touchdowns. His ability gave the Vikings an explosive dimension with the ability to strike on passes or runs and score from the backfield. The injury appeared to happen when his left leg planted while making a cut.
This is another major setback and is huge, because you lose the game and it’s in the Division and Conference and at home, while losing one of your big offensive threats.
The Vikings did not help their cause Sunday at all, fumbling three times and missing a 39-yard field goal. When you sack the quarterback six times and allow just 14 points defensively, that’s usually a good day on defense.
Now the heavy load of the running game will fall on former Pro Bowler Latavius Murray, signed by the Vikings in free agency, and fourth-year running back Jerrick McKinnon. The Vikings travel to Chicago next for a Monday Night Football engagement with the Chicago Bears in prime time.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.