The Minnesota Vikings are 4-1, their best start since 2012. Now Kirk Cousins is leading a team that has won three straight games and looks to go 5-1, which would be their best record after six weeks since their magical 2009 season .led by Brett Favre.
To do that, the Vikings will have to overcome a Miami Dolphins team that has looked like one of the most improved squads in football through the first few weeks. However, Tua Tagovailoa will not be able to participate on Sunday as he is still working his way back from the concussion he 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 he suffered in Week 5. Instead, we’ll be watching 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 show their best performance of the season.
Kirk Cousins, the Minnesota Vikings offense is just starting to find its rhythm
The Vikings could have gone a number of ways last offseason. In some respects, they cleaned house, with the old regime loaded with experience for a new, young hot duo looking to prove they can do better than 20-year NFL veterans. While the cap penalties could hurt their future roster, the Vikings could find a way to trade Kirk Cousins if they really wanted to.
Instead, like many other key pieces on the roster, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell continued with the QB the previous regime agreed to back in 2018. We’ve all heard the same criticism of Cousins - that he needs a rich talent offense to take what was ranked as the 14th offense to the next level.
We haven’t seen the Vikings at their best yet, but there have been flashes, such as last week against Chicago when Cousins completed 17 straight passes to start a career game. Oddly enough, it was an offense that was underwhelming in the rush, with Dalvin Cook’s shoulder injury, along with going into tough pass scripts, likely the leading cause.
With Miami starting the starting quarterback, the Vikings should have no problem dominating time of possession, where Cook will likely get more carries starting in Miami, his hometown, for the first time in his NFL career. But not only will the former Florida State star flourish, but Cousins and the passing game may have their most complete effort yet.
Related: 2022 NFL offense rankings: Los Angeles Rams offense primed for monster Week 6 game
The Miami Dolphins pass defense is terrible
Why are we so confident in Captain Kirk and the Vikings to make a splash in Miami in Week 6? That’s largely because Miami’s pass defense has been ineffective in their first season without Brian Flores as head coach. While defensive coordinator Josh Boyer is the same, this defense is struggling.
The Dolphins currently rank 29th in the NFL in allowing 26.2 points per game, and allowed the fifth-most passing yards per contest at 277 yards 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 huge day from Justin Jefferson, who has surpassed 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 over five weeks. Howard ranks No. 80 among cornerbacks according to Pro Football Focus, and he’s allowed 269 receiving yards and four touchdowns in four games this season. Their top corner so far has been rookie Kader Kohou, but he is on the questionable list. 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 enough to hang with one of the best groups of players in the league. Expect O’Connell to have a game plan ready to take advantage of a poor pass defense while also being ready to shift gears to feed Cook in front of several members of his family. Minnesota’s season high is 29 points, but clearing the 30-point barrier won’t be a problem Sunday as they sink the Dolphins.
Related: 2022 NFL Defensive Rankings: Assessing NFL’s Top Defenses After Week 5