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3 worst-case scenarios for the Vikings this season

What else can go wrong for the Vikings in 2019?
Dalvin Cook

The NFL is an overreaction league. Because you play just once a week and the regular season is the shortest among the four major sports, you live and die with every minor, or major, hiccup.

So when the Vikings looked good in their season opener against the Falcons, all reaction points to the Super Bowl. When they blow it against the Packers and the quarterback throws the worst pass of his life with the game on the line, the season's over.

With the gray cloud looming over the Vikings as they head into what should be a gimme Week 3 win against the Raiders, let's go down the road of three scenarios that would make this season an absolute nightmare. 

1. Dalvin Cook goes down with another injury

Dalvin Cook has been a monster and the Vikings' bread and butter on offense so far this season. His 265 rushing yards leads the NFL through two weeks and he's on pace for 2,120 yards by season's end. 

Cook's health is something to watch. He tore his ACL in Week 4 in his rookie season and in 2018, he dealt with hamstring issues that limited him to just 11 games. 

If the Vikings continue to feed him the ball, it seems an injury could be around the corner. And if Cousins continues to struggle and Cook is lost to an injury, the offense will be in a tailspin.

Rookie running back Alexander Mattison has played well in limited action, but he probably isn't ready, nor as dynamic as Cook is as a starting running back. 

2. Cousins continues to regress 

Speaking of the offense, if Cousins' game continues to go down the tube I'm not sure what the Vikings will do.

Because he signed a fully guaranteed contract, it's not like the Vikings can cut him after this season because they'd still owe him $27 million.

Minnesota needs him to be better, they literally can't afford for him to regress anymore than the has this season. If Cousins is used as a game manager – as we laid out earlier this week – he could be in his most effective role.

Now the pass protection in front of him is actually off to a worse start than last season, so once again he's running for his life. But at the end of day, the best quarterbacks make up for deficiencies and Cousins has to find a way to not lose games like he did in Week 2 against the Packers. 

3. The defense is no longer reliable

We can complain about the offense all we want but if Mike Zimmer's defense falls apart, then this ship has run its course.

The good news is the defense as a whole has been dominant. They're pressuring the quarterback as good as any team and there's so many playmakers like Harrison Smith, Danielle Hunter, Anthony Barr and others to wreak havoc on opposing offenses.

However, the defense has a tendency to not show up in big games. 

We all remember what happened in the NFC Championship Game against the Eagles. Same thing happened last year in prime-time games against the Rams and Saints, where they allowed at least 30 points in losses on national television.

Former All-Pro cornerback Xavier Rhodes was a mess last season and was picked apart against the Packers last week, so he's left plenty of questions yet to be answered. 

So the defense being a force to be reckoned with could be coming to end, and if that window closes more as the season chugs along, then the Vikings will really have to blow things up.

On paper this Vikings team is too talented to bottom out at the moment. The only way that happen is if there's multiple injuries to the defensive starters.

All of these nightmare scenarios aside, the Vikings have a legitimate chance to be among the top contenders in the NFC, so long as Cousins doesn't continue to stink up the joint. 

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