The Vikings offense has a lot going for it. Quarterback Kirk Cousins is playing arguably the best football of his career. Receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are torching defensive backs. They've got a stable of running backs that, when healthy, can break tackles to make plays.
And coordinator John DeFilippo showed he can, again, orchestrate a game plan that produces on the road against some of the NFL's best defensive lines. The results — 821 combined yards in back-to-back weeks against the Rams and Eagles — are evidence enough.
Meanwhile, Cousins is overcoming the biggest question mark he faced coming to Minnesota — excelling while under pressure. The Vikings' top-5 passing attack has thrived despite the quarterback feeling heat on more than 42 percent of his throws, according to Pro Football Focus. That pressure rate trails only Houston's Deshaun Watson (45.7 percent) through five weeks of the NFL season.
Cousins impressed again in Sunday's 23-21 win over Philadelphia, completing a remarkable 81 percent of his passes while getting hit (not hurried, actually hit) on 10 of 37 throws. A couple "unbelievable" throws, as head coach Mike Zimmer described them, came with multiple Eagles in his face.
"One sack, but he got hit a bunch of times," right guard Mike Remmers said. "We're just trying to eliminate that as much as we possibly can."
It's not all on the line; tight ends and running backs also surrender hurries, hits and sacks. Against the Bills, Cousins held onto the ball too long at times. But no matter the culprit, sustainability is the question. Cousins has proved to be durable entering his 55th consecutive NFL start Sunday against the Cardinals.
The Vikings are testing that trend, as he's been hit 36 times in five games. They also have survived this once already.
Last season, Case Keenum led the offense to an NFC Championship Game appearance despite feeling pressure on nearly 40 percent of his throws, the third-highest rate of any quarterback and the most for any offense that made the 2017 playoffs.
One difference between Keenum and Cousins so far this season is that his production likely is coming at a higher cost. He's taking two more hits per game (averaging 7.2 hits) than the more mobile Keenum (5.3) did last season.
Cousins carried out with precision a quick-pass game plan that opened with three-step drops, receiver screens and sideways passes doubling as a faux run game against Philly's No. 1-ranked run stoppers.
DeFilippo peppered in aggressive shots, which Cousins converted on no matter the amount of green jerseys in his face. He took just one sack, when Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham beat right tackle Rashod Hill with a speed move.
When left tackle Riley Reiff exited in the second quarter because of a lingering foot injury, Hill moved to left tackle and rookie Brian O'Neill stepped in at right tackle and fared decently in 41 snaps.
The bigger issues were Graham vs. Hill and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox's four hits on Cousins: two through Remmers and one apiece against left guard Tom Compton and center Pat Elflein.
When deeper attempts were dialed up, Cousins was as impressive as he's been in a Vikings uniform. Perhaps the best play that went unnoticed was his pump fake to get Eagles veteran Chris Long in the air, then sidestepping him to find his target for the third-and-1 conversion.