NFL

Will Dalvin Cook's Injury Hurt the Minnesota Vikings' Playoff Chances?

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Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook is battling through a shoulder injury.

As a football fan, there's nothing worse than seeing a key player suffer an injury. It's even worse when that injury comes at a crucial moment of the season; unfortunately, that's what happened to Minnesota Vikings' running back Dalvin Cook last night.

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook is battling through a shoulder injury.
Will Dalvin Cook's injury be a long-term issue for the Minnesota Vikings?| Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

While both Cook and the coaching staff downplayed the incident, every NFL fan has seen minor injuries develop into major issues. Will Dalvin Cook's bad shoulder be a nagging knock that he can endure without missing a beat? Or will it seriously dent the Vikings' playoff chances?

The Minnesota Vikings' 2019 offense

The 2019 Minnesota Vikings season can be divided into two parts: before and after Kirk Cousins started opening it up.

At the start of the season, the Vikings' potent offense was sputtering. Adam Thielen called out the unit, saying that they needed to throw the ball more; the receiver might have been taking a shot at head coach Mike Zimmer, but Kirk Cousins apologized anyway. Stefon Diggs was also unhappy, skipping practices and becoming the object of trade rumors.

After a Week Four loss to the Chicago Bears, however, everything changed. Zimmer and offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski didn't abandon Davlin Cook and their rushing attack, but used it as part of a more balanced attack; when teams crowded the box to stop the run, Kirk Cousins had an opportunity to throw the ball over the top. While there have been a few hiccups since then, the Vikings offense has continued producing at a high level.

Dalvin Cook's latest injury

While running back Dalvin Cook is a key part of the Vikings offense, isn't performing at 100%. While he first got hurt in Week 11, his problems appeared to come to a head on Monday night when he left the game in discomfort after losing a fumble.

According to David J. Chao, known on Twitter as ProFootballDoc, Cook probably has a sprained SC joint, which is similar to Tyreek Hill's clavicle issue earlier this season. While the injury isn't severe enough to end the running back's season or require surgery, it's far from insignificant. The sprain typically bothers players for four to six weeks; that means the running back will probably be playing through pain for the rest of the season.

NFL players battle through injuries all the time, and Cook will presumably do the same. While the Vikings will definitely want him on the field, his injury may affect Minnesota's playoff chances.

How will Dalvin Cook's injury affect the Vikings' playoff chances?

Last night was Cook's first time playing through his sprained SC joint; while we don't know exactly how he was feeling prior to leaving the game, the running back's production suffered. He carried the ball nine times for 29 yards and a touchdown while losing two fumbles.

A large part of the Vikings offensive success this season has been due to play-action passing. When opposing defenses focus on the run, Kirk Cousins is able to escape the pocket; that gives him an extra second to complete his passes, which helps keep the offense in rhythm and advancing down the field. If Dalvin Cook isn't able to perform up to his usual standards, defensive coordinators will drop more defensive backs into coverage and dare Cousins to beat them.

After the game, Cook said he would “be good to go,” but he'll probably be in pain for the rest of the season. If the Vikings want to qualify for the postseason and make a run, they'll have to hope that their running back heals quickly.

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Joe Kozlowski
Sports Editor

Joe Kozlowski began his career as a sports journalist in 2013 and joined Sports7 in 2019. He covers the NBA and soccer for Sports7, with specialties in legacy NBA players such as Michael Jordan and Premier League club Arsenal. Off the clock, he's a Kansas City Chiefs fan and a hockey goalie. Growing up loving Shaquille O'Neal and reading everything he could about the great big men throughout NBA history — likely because he was still tall enough, at least relative to his peers, to play center — he's continued to love learning about and exploring the historical and story-based sides of the basketball archives. As for Arsenal, Joe spent a year living in London and latched onto the local support of the club. He's barely missed a match since, loving Arsene Wenger, enduring the Banter Era, and following along through rebuilds. The Premier League interest developed into a passionate following of the Champions League, Europe's big five league, and international soccer as a whole when played at the highest level. Regardless of the sport, Joe is captivated by the stories of athletes beyond the box scores and how they push the envelope — both in terms of what we think a human is capable of accomplishing and how they find new competitive tactics to win.

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Joe Kozlowski Sports Editor

Joe Kozlowski began his career as a sports journalist in 2013 and joined Sports7 in 2019. He covers the NBA and soccer for Sports7, with specialties in legacy NBA players such as Michael Jordan and Premier League club Arsenal. Off the clock, he's a Kansas City Chiefs fan and a hockey goalie. Growing up loving Shaquille O'Neal and reading everything he could about the great big men throughout NBA history — likely because he was still tall enough, at least relative to his peers, to play center — he's continued to love learning about and exploring the historical and story-based sides of the basketball archives. As for Arsenal, Joe spent a year living in London and latched onto the local support of the club. He's barely missed a match since, loving Arsene Wenger, enduring the Banter Era, and following along through rebuilds. The Premier League interest developed into a passionate following of the Champions League, Europe's big five league, and international soccer as a whole when played at the highest level. Regardless of the sport, Joe is captivated by the stories of athletes beyond the box scores and how they push the envelope — both in terms of what we think a human is capable of accomplishing and how they find new competitive tactics to win.

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