From @reitan77: Does 9-6-1 get the Vikings into the playoffs?
AK: Should the Vikings manage no better than 5-3 in the final eight games, they’re going to need the NFC to continue to be a muddled mess. Through half the season, four teams have two losses or better in the Rams (8-0), Saints (6-1), Redskins (5-2) and Panthers (5-2), while the next tier features four 3-loss teams. Three of them are in the NFC North between the Bears (4-3), Vikings (4-3-1) and Packers (3-3-1). Half of the Vikings’ remaining games stick out above the rest as critical in the playoff push, including both games against Chicago (Week 11, Week 17), the Packers (Week 12) and the Seahawks (Week 14). At 4-3, Seattle is emerging as a wild-card contender behind the Rams. Meanwhile, five of the Bears’ final nine opponents currently sit with losing records in the Lions (x2), Bills, Giants and 49ers. So, Chicago could be relevant for longer than the Vikings are used to seeing. The simplest route for the Vikings to the postseason is taking care of NFC North games, starting Sunday vs. the Lions.
From @WeMustBeNets: For a veteran QB who’s getting paid very well, am I reading too into them not trusting him before the half with two timeouts and 30 seconds to work with? Seemed like a chance to get 3 points back.
AK: The only clarity Mike Zimmer offered on that decision was that receiver Adam Thielen’s fumble on the previous drive impacted his decision to not take a chance there. It was a conservative choice given Zimmer and quarterback Kirk Cousins saying they entered the week with an emphasis on being aggressive offensively. I think it had more to do with Zimmer’s confidence in the entire offense at that point, instead of an indictment on Cousins’ play. Regardless, it’s a coaching inconsistency that did stand out from the 10-point loss.
From Robert Dunlap: What kind of financial balancing act do the Vikings face when it comes to addressing offensive line next season? Is the ability of re-signing Anthony Barr at risk or do players like Kyle Rudolph and Mike Remmers have to take pay cuts to make any free agent solution(s) possible?
AK: To add a priority free agent next spring, the Vikings would need to free up cap space elsewhere. They’ll have decisions to make in the secondary, where cornerback Trae Waynes enters an option year worth $9 million that isn’t guaranteed until the third day of the league year in March. The Vikings also have a team option on safety Andrew Sendejo worth $5.5 million and safety George Iloka becomes a free agent. Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and Barr are also free agents. They could free up money by moving on from Waynes, or re-structuring or cutting Kyle Rudolph ($7.625M cap) or Mike Remmers ($5.75M cap), which would leave little dead money. And the Vikings should look hard at doing right by receiver Adam Thielen, who deserves a new contract and is set to count just $5 million against the 2019 salary cap. In short, some major moves would be needed to bring in another high-priced player.
From @davidtalley0: Why would [Dan Bailey] switch hash marks on his second PAT? Right first, left second.
AK: I got this question a lot after kicker Dan Bailey missed an extra point from the left hash mark after making his first from the right side. So, I asked Bailey this week. Here’s his answer: “That was my game plan going into the game. I was just going to kind of switch it up, because certain teams like to short-side rush or scheme up a rush based on what hash mark you’re on. So, if you have an opportunity to dictate that, I usually like to do that to not be too predictable.” Bailey added that it’s a strategy he’s had throughout his career, during which he’s made 297 of 300 extra points.