The Minnesota Vikings are a mess.

The current company they hold, at 1-5, is fairly odious, what with the Washington Football Guys and the Giants and the Jaguars and the Falcons the only other outfits to reach these depths so soon (the Jets, in fairness, deserve their own category still hunting for their first victory). And the abject failure of the Vikings perhaps comes most into focus when you consider the ugly results of their Week 6 meltdown.

Minnesota is actually now trailing Atlanta, who finally fired its coach and GM last week, in the standings after Sunday’s crippling, 40-23 defeat to the Falcons. They were thoroughly outclassed by Atlanta in all facets with that team playing its first game under interim head coach Raheem Morris, but at least the Falcons have some semblance of a direction at this point. The Vikings came into the season thinking they were a legit threat to make noise in January and they just extended their coach and GM in the offseason … despite the fact that Mike Zimmer likely was in serious threat of being let go had he been whacked by the Saints in that playoff game.

Yeah, stuff like that usually comes back to bite you, and that’s how you find an organization that should have been in a rebuild mode last offseason now contemplating just how naive doubling down with new contracts for Zimmer and quarterback Kirk Cousins was. So now they have yet another offensive coordinator under fire — a constant under this regime — and they stare at a complicated crossroads two weeks from the trade deadline, with a bad cap situation and plenty of bloated contracts and a team that finds ways to lose week after week.

Once again, don’t let the final totals in the boxscore fool you. This game was over at the half, which is really saying something when the Falcons are your opponent. Cousins had another early-game meltdown, continuing a disturbing trend for a team that no longer has a defense capable of playing from behind. Cousins went 8-of-14 for 102 yards with three picks in the first half; on the season he is 50-for-83 (60 percent) for 607 yards with one touchdown and six picks (and a few safeties thrown in for good measure) and a dreadful QB rating of 56.65 (he entered this week with a rating of 104.9 in the second half of games, which has been filled with plenty of hollow compiling with games out of reach). 

That ain’t gonna fly for a quality team, let alone with the deficiencies of the Vikings. But good luck sorting through this. Even with an expanded playoff field, things are awfully bleak for the Vikings. They look pretty stuck to me. The offensive line is bad. The defensive line ain’t much better. They trailed the hapless Falcons by 23 points before they scored Sunday. They trail even the Lions in the NFC North (who have had plenty of internal discussions about making a coaching change of their own).

That’s not where you want to be in late October, and they come out of their bye in Week 8 against the Packers. Good luck with that. 

Why you can’t count out Wentz, Eagles

Carson Wentz has taken a lot of heat this season, and yeah he does still hold the ball too long and try to do too much himself sometimes. But given the group of offensive linemen and receivers around him, he basically does have to do it all himself these days, and Sunday he nearly willed the Eagles to an epic comeback.

Wentz knew he was going to get blasted on pretty much every drop back, yet he kept making brave throw after brave throw, catching the Ravens in some blitzes and keeping drives alive with his powerful runs while making this a 30-28 game in the end despite a massive imbalance in available talent. Down 17, on a day where besides center Jason Kelce no one else blocking up front had even three NFL starts to his name, and with Ravens coordinator Wink Martindale blitzing more than any team in the NFL, Wentz never gave up. 

It was, frankly, hard to watch at times, but Wentz’s guts proved infectious and the Eagles came a two-point conversion away from a wild win (and, honestly, a dropped bomb and a dropped TD by his teammates did end up costing them the game). The team is thoroughly behind him, the coaches are starting to unlock some things with rookie QB Jalen Hurts and Wentz on the field at the same time, the Philly defensive line is legit and they expect to get a legion of key players back from injury at the bye.

The short week will be tough, but watch them beat the Giants Thursday and take out Dallas after a bye and whack the Giants again to have command of this division by midseason. Even their backups are better than most of what the rest of the NFC Least has to offer.

More Week 6 insider notes

  • While the Titans have not been slowed down by the rampant rescheduling caused in large part by the Covid outbreak, plenty of other teams have been. Buffalo was off when facing the Titans on a Tuesday night and the Patriots lack of recent practice time due to their Covid results was clearly a factor on Sunday. They couldn’t finish drives, their lack of playmakers at receiver showed up big time, and the running game was not nearly as crisp as we saw the first few weeks of the season. Injuries to the offensive line are piling up, and outside of Newton no one could move the ball on the ground (the running backs rushed 15 times for 41 yards). They had just two plays over 20 yards and could not win at home despite neophyte QB Drew Lock completing just 10 passes on the day (no touchdowns) while tossing two picks.
  • The Ravens could really use a veteran wide receiver with a little burst.
  • The Ron Rivera honeymoon period certainly seems to be over in Washington. That team needs to peddle Ryan Kerrigan and Ryan Anderson and Brandon Scherff and Morgan Moses and anything else possible to get more draft picks in there. Benching Dwayne Haskins just further revealed how suspect everything else about that offense is (which, duh, of course). I know it was only like a week ago when the WFT decided it was gonna win the NFC Least, but becoming sellers at the deadline at a time when few teams seem inclined to do so would actually make far more sense.
  • Losing Devin Bush for the season, which appears to be the case for the Steelers, is going to sting. As much talent as they have, his presence and speed and instincts were essential.
  • A lot of people will kick the Browns all week, but they are fine. They will beat bad teams on a consistent basis and given some good teams trouble at times as well. They’re a playoff team and that tiebreaker over the Colts from Week 5 could prove huge.
  • When there are this many bad teams in the NFL, and the Jets stick out so clearly as the worst of the worst, that’s a major problem. 

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