Obviously, Vikings fans are disappointed with how Week 1 played out. I am here to remind you that it is only 1 game and it's not the end of the world! Yes, we have a difficult schedule coming up and Tampa Bay appeared to be a game that we needed to win, but there are other winnable games on the early schedule that we can bounce back with (Chargers and Panthers, for example). Kevin O'Connell will get the team ready to play. That being said, this was a horrible performance by QB Cousins and the offense. Cousins and the offense were able to move the ball at times, but we are falling back into the same issues that I have laid out for the last 5+ seasons, including in my 2023 preview.
The Vikings had 11 offensive possessions:
5 possessions ended in 3 & outs (2 being our final 2 possessions, and we continue to lead the league in this category ever since Cousins was signed in 2018). You're never going to have a good defense if the offense doesn't get first downs, let alone a legit top 10 offense.
3 possessions ended in turnovers: 1 crucial goal line interception before halftime and 2 lost fumbles.
The other 3 possessions resulted in 2 TDs and a Field Goal.
Those 3 turnovers were on Cousins. The interception was Cousins in panic mode and basically threw it right to the safety/behind KJ Osborn's route. The 2 fumbles were on Cousins for being lazy with the snap (per multiple former NFL players - Matt Ryan and Alex Boone) and then he didn't even look to the right at any point when Antoine Winfield Jr blew him up on a blitz. Look at the replay, he snaps the ball and just stands there staring left waiting for TJ to break open on a deep flag route. Oh well! Getting away from the downsides of the game, Cousins still ended up throwing for 344 yards (2nd most in Week 1) and 2 TDs, including 1 to our new rookie Jordan Addison! Addison was clocked running 140 MPH into the end zone..."Now here's a guy!" Justin Jefferson added 9 catches and 150 yards, a typical day at the office for JJ (pay the man!). Our offensive line is much improved this year, and actually came in as the 8th best pass blocking offensive line in league in Week 1. There were some very good signs considering we were -3 in the turnover battle and only lost 20-17. In my mind, the turnovers aren't going to be the issue this season since turnovers happen, we HAVE to stop going 3 & out so often. Hopefully that will change.
Week 2 is going to be a very tough battle against the 1-0 Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles beat the Patriots in New England in Week 1 25-20 after jumping out to a 16-0 lead early in the 1st quarter. After that start, the whole game kind of slowed down, so the Eagles will likely be hungry on Thursday. The interior offensive line for the Vikings is still the weak spot, and the Eagles have Jordan Davis, Jalen Carter, and Fletcher Cox. These guys are going to give our passing game fits. I am a little worried about how this game is going to go. I won't be surprised if the Vikings win, but we will have to play a near flawless game against the reigning NFC champions. Here are some keys to the game:
This is the Eagles Home Opener, also one of the toughest places to play, especially in primetime. Their fans are insane.
Teams that start 0-2 in a season have an 11.3% chance to make the playoffs, historically. That percentage is slightly higher now that there is an extra wild card spot added in recent years, but the Vikings don't want to play with fire.
In QB Cousins career, he is 10-40 against teams over .500 (second worst record in the history of the NFL) and he is 12-20 in Primetime Games. The Eagles are one of the best teams in the NFL...this is going to be a tough game and environment.
Vikings need to limit the 3 & outs and come out with a positive turnover differential.
Jalen Hurts and this offense needs to be contained.
Vikings need to score more points than the Eagles.
As much as I want to predict the Vikings to beat the Eagles, I just don't think that is going to happen. I predict a 34-17 victory for the Eagles in their Home Opener, dropping the Vikings to 0-2 to start the season. Come on, Vikings! Prove me wrong and have a bounce back win in Philly!!!