Vikings re-sign Abdullah, Jones

The Minnesota Vikings have re-signed RB Ameer Adullah and C Brett Jones, the team announced today.

Abdullah returns to Minnesota for his sixth NFL season in 2020. The Homewood, Alabama, native was originally drafted by Detroit in the second round (54th overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft and has totaled 3,380 all-purpose yards and 10 touchdowns over the course of 58 career games (22 starts). Abdullah has served as Minnesota’s primary kick returner since being claimed off waivers by the Vikings on November 7, 2018, tallying 23 kick returns for 583 yards (25.3 average) in 23 games with the club.

The 26-year-old Abdullah set a single-season career high with six special teams tackles in 2019, tied for second on the team according to league stats.

Minnesota has a lot of depth at the running back position with Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison, so barring injury, Abdullah impact will continue to be felt on special teams

Jones, 28, enters his third season with the Vikings in 2020 after originally being acquired from the New York Giants via trade on August 26, 2018. The native of Weyburn, Saskatchewan, appeared in two games in 2019 before being placed on the reserve/injured list on November 14. In his first season with Minnesota, Jones played in 14 games, making three starts at center.

Prior to joining the Vikings, he appeared in 30 games in three seasons with the Giants, making 14 starts. Jones spent the 2013 and 2014 seasons with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League, helping the club to a Grey Cup title in 2014 and earning the CFL’s Most Outstanding Lineman award for his efforts.

Zimmer believes Minnesota’s playoff experience will help the team

In life, when you know what to expect, you can better prepare for all the possibilities, which is the case for the Minnesota Vikings.  

In 2017, Minnesota went to the NFC title game, and a lot of players who made that run for the Vikings are still with the team. Conversely, for the 49ers, that is not the case. The last time San Francisco made the playoffs was 2013. On Saturday, their QB Jimmy Garoppolo will be making his playoff debut as a starter when the 49ers host Minnesota in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. 

Regarding experience, you have to favor Minnesota, and while Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer thinks experience will help his team, it’s still about playing good football. 

“I can’t speak for their team,” Zimmer said on Thursday. “I do feel like us being in the NFC Championship game two years ago, we can draw on some things through that course of that process that we had. One thing is the number of media that’s going to be out on the field before the game. As these games continue getting bigger, the distractions become bigger. I think we can draw on that. It’s still going out and playing good football.”

The stage does get much bigger as you move on in the playoffs, and whether the 49ers are equipped to handle the big stage, will be revealed on Saturday. It’s much easier to win in the regular season than it is in the playoffs, and because it’s win or go home, the stakes are much higher. 

Beating two 13-win teams in consecutive weeks on the road is never easy, but that’s what the Vikings will have to do to if they want to move on. They have the experience, and they will need all of that and more to beat the Niners on Saturday.

NFL Wild Card, Divisional playoff schedule announced

The NFL announced tonight the schedule of sites, dates and times for the National Football League Wild Card Playoffs on January 4-5 and Divisional Playoffs on January 11-12.

NFL WILD CARD PLAYOFFS

Saturday, January 4

AFC:    4:35 PM (ET)  Buffalo at Houston (ESPN, with simulcast on ABC)

AFC:    8:15 PM (ET)  Tennessee at New England (CBS)

Sunday, January 5

NFC:    1:05 PM (ET)  Minnesota at New Orleans (FOX)

NFC:    4:40 PM (ET)  Seattle at Philadelphia (NBC)

NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS

Saturday, January 11

NFC:    4:35 PM (ET)  Philadelphia/Seattle/Minnesota at San Francisco (NBC)

AFC:    8:15 PM (ET)  Houston/Buffalo/Tennessee at Baltimore (CBS)

Sunday, January 12

AFC:    3:05 PM (ET)  New England/Houston/Buffalo at Kansas City (CBS)

NFC:    6:40 PM (ET)  New Orleans/Philadelphia/Seattle at Green Bay (FOX)

In the Divisional Playoffs, the division champion with the best record in each conference will host the lowest-seeded Wild Card survivor. Once teams are seeded for the playoffs, positions do not change:

American Football Conference

National Football Conference

1.

Baltimore (14-2), AFC North champion

1.

San Francisco (13-3), NFC West champion

2.

Kansas City (12-4), AFC West champion

2.

Green Bay (13-3), NFC North champion

3.

New England (12-4), AFC East champion

3.

New Orleans (13-3), NFC South champion

4.

Houston (10-6), AFC South champion

4.

Philadelphia (9-7), NFC East champion

5.

Buffalo (10-6)

5.

Seattle (11-5)

6.

Tennessee (9-7)

6.

Minnesota (10-6)

The AFC (CBS, 3:05 PM ET) and NFC (FOX, 6:40 PM ET) Championship Games will be played on Sunday, January 19.

The 2020 Pro Bowl (ESPN, with simulcast on ABC, 3:00 PM ET) will be played on Sunday, January 26, at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida, and Super Bowl LIV will take place on Sunday, February 2 (FOX, 6:30 PM ET), at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.

Cousins on Vikings’ defense: ‘Certainly they played well enough for us to win the football game’

Monday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers(12-3) was a very forgettable performance for the Minnesota Vikings(10-5). With an outside shot to win the NFC North, the Vikings played one of their worst games of the season, especially on offense.

The Packers sacked Kirk Cousins five times and had him under duress the entire contest. Cousins finished the game completing only 16 of 31 passes for 122 yards with a touchdown and an interception as Minnesota was defeated at home by Green Bay 23-10.  With the victory, the Packers clinch the NFC North.

While the offense struggled, the Vikings’ defense played fairly well. Minnesota forced three Packers’ turnovers, which led to Minnesota’s 10 points, and according to Cousins, Minnesota’s defense played well enough for the team to win. 

“I thought the Packers just did a good job taking things away and stopping us in a lot of different areas,” Cousins said after the game. “And just a few plays that we didn’t connect on that ended drives for us. And our defense played at a very high-level tonight. Certainly, they played well enough for us to win the football game. But we just weren’t able to put it all together.”

Vikings WR Stefon Diggs, who had three catches for 57 yards and a touchdown, felt the offense just could not get on track against Green Bay.

“It was definitely frustrating,” Diggs said. “We work all week on a game plan, and when things don’t go as planned, it is very frustrating. We tried to adjust to some things, but nothing was working.”

The Vikings’ offense was held to only seven first downs in this game, and without Pro Bowl running back Dalvn Cook and Alexander Mattison, had a hard time running the ball with Mike Boone and Ameer Abdullah. Minnesota was held to 57 yards on the ground, which made this team one-dimensional on Monday night.

“I certainly don “t want to minimize Dalvin’s impact on our team because he’s a tremendous player and has had a great year,” Cousins said. “But we also have really good football players tonight at those positions. So, we certainly felt that we had the firepower. So, I guess it’s a small sample size right now, but obviously, the result was certainly pointing to not good enough.”

Cousins is now 0-9 when playing on Monday Night Football, but fortunately for the Vikings, who have secured a playoff spot(wild card/6th seed), no playoff games will be played on Monday night.  This was a tough loss for Minnesota. However, they have to regroup and get ready for the playoffs.

 

 

Texans, Cowboys, Vikings, can clinch playoff spots in Week 16

It’s crunch time in the NFL. With two games left, the Ravens, Chiefs, Bills, and Patriots have clinched playoff spots in the AFC, and in the NFC, the Saints, Packers, Seahawks, and 49ers are in the playoffs. There are four spots left to be filled(two in each conference) and a lot of meaningful football to be played.

Here are the playoff scenarios for Week 16 in the NFL:

AFC

CLINCHED:

Baltimore Ravens – AFC North division

Kansas City Chiefs – AFC West division

Buffalo Bills – playoff berth

New England Patriots – playoff berth

BALTIMORE RAVENS (12-2) (at Cleveland (6-8), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, CBS)

Baltimore clinches a first-round bye with:

  1. BAL win or tie OR

  2. KC loss or tie OR

  3. NE loss

Baltimore clinches homefield advantage throughout AFC playoffs with:

  1. BAL win OR

  2. BAL tie + NE loss or tie OR

  3. KC loss or tie + NE loss

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (11-3) (vs. Buffalo (10-4), Saturday, 4:30 PM ET, NFL Network)

New England clinches AFC East division with:

  1. NE win or tie

New England clinches a first-round bye with:

  1. NE win + KC loss or tie OR

  2. NE tie + KC loss

HOUSTON TEXANS (9-5) (at Tampa Bay (7-7), Saturday, 1:00 PM ET, NFL Network)

Houston clinches AFC South division with:

  1. HOU win OR

  2. HOU tie + TEN tie OR

  3. TEN loss

Houston clinches a playoff berth with:

  1. HOU tie + PIT tie OR

  2. PIT loss

NFC

CLINCHED:

New Orleans Saints – NFC South division

Green Bay Packers – playoff berth

San Francisco 49ers – playoff berth

Seattle Seahawks – playoff berth

GREEN BAY PACKERS (11-3) (at Minnesota (10-4), Monday, 8:15 PM ET, ESPN)

Green Bay clinches NFC North division with:

  1. GB win or tie

DALLAS COWBOYS (7-7) (at Philadelphia (7-7), Sunday, 4:25 PM ET, FOX)

Dallas clinches NFC East division with:

  1. DAL win

MINNESOTA VIKINGS (10-4) (vs. Green Bay (11-3), Monday, 8:15 PM ET, ESPN)

Minnesota clinches a playoff berth with:​

  1. MIN win or tie OR

  2. LAR loss or tie

Vikings’ Zimmer: ‘It seems like we find different ways to win all the time’

The 2019 season did not start the greatest for the Minnesota Vikings. After an abysmal performance against the Bears, the Vikings fell to 2-2, and at that point, many were prepared to write them off. However, they found ways to turn things around. Kirk Cousins woke up and Dalvin Cook, who has played well all year long, continued to run hard.

Everytime the Vikings have lost this season, they have come back with a victory, including Sunday’s 20-7 win over the Lions. Minnesota has found many different ways to win this season, and right now, they are in a good spot. According to this week’s online sports betting odds after opening at -135 and -148 for Week 15, The Vikings are slightly favored against the LA Chargers.

After 13 games, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer is delighted with his team.

“I like this team,” Zimmer said on Monday. “They come in here, and they work. I think they understand what’s at stake every single week. The games that we’ve lost, they’ve been close ballgames, but we found ways, and it seems like we find different ways to win all the time.

“This week we got some turnovers, and we played really good on defense. Offense was just okay, really, most of the day. There’s been times when the offense has been great, and the defense has been just okay. The more ways that we can find way to win I think is important. I think they have confidence that, like the Denver game, we’re down 20 to zip, and we’re able to come back, or whatever it was. Find ways to keep fighting and keep trying to score points and win games.”

Minnesota has to play a little better defensively in the final three games and keep Cook healthy, but if this team continues to show the toughness that they have shown in the first 13 games, the Vikings should make the playoffs and possibly make some noise in January.

 

Vikings’ Diggs: ‘We still haven’t played our best football’

On Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings did what they were supposed to do when they defeated the Lions at home 20-7. With the victory, the Vikings move to 9-4 and remain one game behind the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North standings, and continue to hold the sixth and final spot in the NFC playoffs. 

The Vikings are making their push to the playoffs, and according to WR Stefon Diggs, they want to play their best football during December.

“Yes, the defense played lights out as they came out and got a lot of stops for us,” Diggs said after the game. “Kirk [Cousins] is playing extremely well, and it’s amazing how good some of those throws are out there. Obviously, we are running the ball efficiently, and everybody is doing their jobs well. At this point, we are just trying to play our best football in December.”

Two of the Vikings three remaining games will be at home, where the Vikings are 6-0 this season. But according to Diggs, Minnesota still has not played their best football yet. 

“It is good to win at home,” Diggs said. “We are trying to create a snowball effect as far as building the momentum, having the success, playing our best football. We still haven’t played our best football. There is a lot of football in front of us, and I look forward to it.”

Minnesota’s final three games won’t be easy. The Chargers(5-8), Minnesota’s next opponent, have a decent amount of talent, plus it’s a road game for the Vikings, so that might be tricky. The final two games are at home games against the Packers and the surging Bears. 

It’s good to be 9-4, but the Vikings still have some more work to do. 

Zimmer on Cook: ‘When he gets the ball in space, people can’t catch him’

Vikings RB Dalvin Cook has been named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 10. Cook paced the Vikings in both rushing yards (97) and receiving yards (86) to lead Minnesota past Dallas, 28-24, on Sunday Night Football.

With 183 total yards in the contest, he has surpassed 100 scrimmage yards a league-leading eight times in 2019. Cook’s 86 yards through the air also tied a career-high.

“I thought the offensive line did an outstanding job, and he’s (Cook) is a great player,” Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said on Wednesday. “We stayed on blocks, we finished blocks, the tight ends did a nice job, and receivers did a good job when they were in there blocking. Kirk got us in the right plays, and Dalvin is a great runner.”

Through 10 games, the former Florida State Seminole leads the NFL with 991 rushing yards and 1,415 scrimmage yards, while his 10 rushing touchdowns rank third in the league. Cook’s 1,415 scrimmage yards also set a franchise record and is the highest 10-game total in the NFL since DeMarco Murray’s 1,514 scrimmage yards in 2014. Overall, his 991 rushing yards through Week 10 are more than 15 NFL teams have totaled all season.

“You know, I always knew that he(Cook) was a terrific runner,” Zimmer said. “But, I think the other two things, how hard he runs and that the first person typically doesn’t tackle him, has been really impressive. And then the other part is when he gets the ball in space, people can’t catch him. He just has that extra gear.”

With Cook and Alexander Mattison carrying the load for Minnesota, life for Vikings QB Kirk Cousins is good. Many expected Cook to have a big year, and after 10 games, he is doing just that. 

Vikings bring back Andrew Sendejo

The Minnesota Vikings have signed S Andrew Sendejo, the team announced today. Sendejo rejoins the Vikings after spending the first nine weeks of the season with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he appeared in nine games (one start) and made 26 tackles, two passes defensed, 1.0 sack, two tackles for loss and one interception, according to league stats.

The San Antonio, Texas, native had previously spent eight seasons (2011-2018) in Minnesota, appearing in 93 games with 58 starts and totaling 341 tackles, 1.0 sack, six interceptions, and 17 passes defensed. The former Rice Owl originally entered the NFL in 2010 as an undrafted free agent with Dallas, appearing in two games for the Cowboys that season.

To make room for Sendejo, Minnesota waived S Marcus Epps.

Vikings release Marcus Sherels

The Minnesota Vikings have released returner/corner Marcus Sherels, the team announced today.

Sherels, 32, returned to Minnesota in September after spending the offseason with the Saints. The nine-year veteran spent his whole career with Minnesota and holds franchise records for punt return yardage, punt return touchdowns, and punt return average. With Sherels out, expect corner Mike Hughes to take over punt return duties for Minnesota.

The Vikings are set to host the Redskins on Thursday, and with the uncertainty with WR Adam Thielen, who left the Vikings’ 42-30 victory over the Lions on Sunday with a hamstring injury, it should be interesting to see what the Vikings do with the open roster spot.