1. Jeremiah Sirles might be one of the best five offensive linemen on the Vikings right now. For the second consecutive week, Sirles, who has played every position on the line in his three years in the NFL, came off the bench to replace an injured lineman. Against the Panthers, he took over for Alex Boone at left guard in the second quarter and held up well, particularly in pass protection. In the win over the Giants, he subbed in for Andre Smith at right tackle midway through their first-quarter touchdown drive and looked good the rest of the way. That group overall played the best it has all season, keeping quarterback Sam Bradford clean and paving the way for the team’s first 100-yard rushing performance of 2016. That obviously was not solely because of Sirles, but he has shown the past two weeks that he deserves consideration for a starting role with others, particularly the man he replaced Monday night, struggling.

 

2. The Vikings defense is going to keep frustrating fantasy football owners all year. This talented group has reached the point where it can keep an opponent’s top weapon under wraps any time it wants. Two weeks ago, the Vikings focused on keeping Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on his heels but contained inside the pocket and pulled it off. Last week, they shut out big Panthers pass-catcher Kelvin Benjamin. Monday, they held the Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr., one of the top five wideouts in the league, to three catches for 23 yards. Players said Beckham was the top focus all week. And while Xavier Rhodes usually shadowed him when Rhodes was on the field, he had plenty of help. The Vikings often used their safeties in a two-deep shell and had one drive on Beckham’s routes whenever he broke inside. He didn’t have a second-half catch, much to the dismay of fantasy football owners who needed him to come up big.

 

3. The Vikings were wise for not bailing on Cordarrelle Patterson before they had to. There is no doubt that Patterson has been a major disappointment since scoring nine touchdowns as a rookie. The current coaching staff benched him midway through his second season because he too often lined up at the wrong spot or ran the wrong route, and it was clear that quarterback Teddy Bridgewater did not trust him. While Patterson clearly was frustrated by his lack of a role on offense, he did not sulk. It took him a year longer than it should have to figure out what he needed to be doing in the offseason, but he showed up this spring hellbent on proving his worth. The past two weeks, Patterson has provided added value as a gunner on special teams and he had five catches Monday night after snagging only two passes in all of 2015. What he is doing could silence the critics who have questioned his heart.

MATT VENSEL