The Minnesota Vikings are 4-1, their best start since 2012. Now Kirk Cousins leads a team that’s won three consecutive games and looks to get to 5-1, which would be their best record after six weeks since their magical 2009 season led by Brett Favre.
To do so, the Vikings will have to overcome a Miami Dolphins team that appeared to be one of the most improved rosters in football over the first few weeks. Yet, Tua Tagovailoa won’t be able to participate on Sunday as he still works his way back from the concussion suffered in Week 4 against Cincinnati.
Under normal circumstances, former Minnesota fan favorite Teddy Bridgewater would be under center, but he too is overcoming a concussion suffered in Week 5. Instead, we’ll see seventh-round rookie QB Skylar Thompson make his first NFL start. In other words, it could be a long day for the Dolphins. But Minnesota? They are in line to put forth their best performance of the season.
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings offense just starting to find rhythm
The Vikings could have gone in a number of ways this past offseason. In some aspects, they cleaned house, out with the old regime brimming with experience for a new, young hotshot duo looking to prove they can do better than 20-year NFL vets. While cap penalties could have hurt their future cap sheet, the Vikings could have found a way to trade Kirk Cousins had they really wanted to.
Instead, like many other key pieces on the roster, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell went forward with the QB the previous regime settled on back in 2018. We all heard the same criticisms about Cousins — that he needs a talent-rich offense to take what ranked as the 14th offense to the next level.
We haven’t quite seen the Vikings at their best just yet, but there have been flashes, such as last week against Chicago when Cousins completed a career-best 17 consecutive passes to start the game. Oddly enough, it’s actually been the rushing offense that’s been lackluster, with Dalvin Cook’s shoulder injury, along with getting into pass-heavy game scripts, likely the leading cause.
With Miami starting a rookie quarterback, the Vikings should have no issue dominating the time of possession, where Cook is likely to receive more carries starting in Miami, his native area, for the first time in his NFL career. But not only will the former Florida State star flourish, but Cousins and the passing game can also have their most complete effort yet.
Miami Dolphins’ pass defense is atrocious
Why are we so confident in Captain Kirk and the Vikings to make a splash in Miami in Week 6? It’s largely due to how ineffective Miami’s passing defense has been in their first season without Brian Flores as head coach. While the defensive coordinator, Josh Boyer, is the same, this defense is struggling big-time.
The Dolphins currently rank 29th in the NFL, allowing 26.2 points per game, and have allowed the fifth-most passing yards per contest at 277 per game. Aside from facing the Patriots and Jets (two poor passing offenses), the ‘Phish have allowed 334.6 passing yards per game. In other words, expect another massive day from Justin Jefferson, who’s exceeded 146 receiving yards in three of his first five games this season.
Xavien Howard is a three-time Pro Bowl cornerback, but you wouldn’t know it from his performance through five weeks. Howard ranks 80th among cornerbacks according to Pro Football Focus, and has allowed 269 receiving yards and four touchdowns in four games this season. Their top-ranked corner so far has been rookie Kader Kohou, but he’s listed as doubtful. Even Howard himself was limited in practice until Friday as he deals with a groin injury.
The Dolphins won’t be at full strength, and even if they were, it still wouldn’t be good enough to hang with one of the league’s best groups of skill-position players. Expect O’Connell to have a game plan ready to take advantage of a poor pass defense while also being ready to switch gears to feed Cook in front of several members of his family. Minnesota’s season-high in points this season has been 29 points, but clearing the 30-point barrier won’t be an issue on Sunday as they sink the Dolphins.