Dalvin Cook Injured In Vikings’ Big Win Over Chargers
Mystery Surrounding Cook’s Status
With a 10-4 record and another dominant win on Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings are starting to look like a dangerous piece of the NFC playoff puzzle. Yet there’s now a blanket of mystery surrounding the status of one of their own key pieces, running back Dalvin Cook.
Minnesota put on another show Sunday afternoon when it took down the Chargers in Los Angeles, but it came at the cost of Cook. After disappearing into the medical tent with a shoulder injury in the third quarter, the Vikings’ star back was ruled out for the rest of the game.
The health of Cook’s shoulder is now in question with Minnesota preparing to make a playoff run. Cook declined to speak with reporters after the game.
Coach Mike Zimmer said, “I don’t know” and “I’m not a doctor” when asked about the injury.
So, the Vikings were able to set up a big-time clash with the NFC North-leading Packers next Monday night, but they may have to play that game and more without their most important player.
What Cook Provides In Minnesota
Even without looking at the stats, it’s easy to see that this Minnesota offense simply looks different when Cook is leading the way. The Vikings’ star rusher is able to evade defenders, punish tacklers, and wear down entire defenses.
And he has the stats, too.
In addition to rushing for the seventh-most yards in the NFL (1,135), Cook has scored 13 touchdowns while averaging 4.5 yards per carry.
The Team’s Most Dynamic Player
With Cook, the Vikings are a team that can set up the play-action pass with a legitimate running game. In turn, Kirk Cousins has the time to find the likes of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs down the field.
And Cook has become a huge part of the passing game as well. Thus far, Cook has caught 53 balls for 519 yards (second on the team) and five touchdowns.
Without Cook, Minnesota would miss its most dynamic playmaker and the player opposing defenses have to focus a game plan around.
While the Vikings can close out games against the likes of the Chargers without their star back, they’re going to need Cook when it comes to games against other NFC contenders, like the Monday night showdown with the Packers that’s up next.
Are Vikings A Super Bowl Contender?
Cook’s shoulder injury (and Minnesota’s lack of comment on the subject) is a major concern for the team because, without Cook, the defenses Minnesota will play in the postseason will no longer have to stack the box to stop the Vikings’ offense.
And even if Cook only misses one game, it could cost the Vikings a chance at the NFC North title. Without that division crown, Minnesota would have to go on the road to start its playoff run.
While the Vikings are undefeated at home, they’re just 4-4 when playing on someone else’s field.
Match Against Green Bay Is Key
So, this upcoming contest against Green Bay cannot be understated when it comes to Minnesota’s chances of making a Super Bowl run.
For now, the Vikings are four-point favorites entering the game against Green Bay. If Cook’s shoulder injury will sideline the star back, expect that line to change quickly.
And even if Cook is able to go, look for the Vikings to limit Cook’s carries with his health for the playoffs serving as the team’s primary concern.