The Minnesota Vikings are 6-2 and deep in the NFC playoff hunt as the team takes a week off during its bye. FOX Sports North looks at several lingering questions as the Vikings gear up for the second half.
USA TODAY SportsBrace Hemmelgarn
Who's the quarterback?
Minnesota has three quarterbacks, all seemingly capable of leading the team to victory when healthy. Call this a good problem to have, unlike, say, the Browns, Broncos and 49ers, who are rotating through QBs trying to find someone -- anyone -- who can play well. Still, the Vikings and head coach Mike Zimmer will need to decide which horse to ride, especially as the postseason approaches. If Sam Bradford can get healthy, should Minnesota give the reins back to him? After all, the Vikings did trade a first-round pick last year to get Bradford, who completed 71.6 percent of his passes with 20 touchdowns and only five interceptions in 2016. In his brief time in 1 1/2 games in 2017, Bradford is at 74.4 percent, 3 TDs and 0 INT -- a 124.4 QB rating. Meanwhile, Case Keenum has filled in more than admirably in Bradford's stead, completing 63.9 percent of his passes with seven TDs and three picks. Minnesota is 4-2 in Keenum's six starts. Should they just stick with him? And, of course, there's Teddy Bridgewater, the past and perhaps future king. Complicating things -- beyond Minnesota wanting to win now -- is that all three QBs are free agents in 2018.
What about the running game?
Rookie Dalvin Cook gave Minnesota a burst of energy before he went down with a torn ACL. Cook averaged at least 5.08 yards per carry in three of his four games and in the other he rushed for 92 yards and caught five passes for 72 yards. In Cook's absence, the Vikings running backs have been … adequate. Latavius Murray had a big game against Baltimore, rushing for 113 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. However in the other three games since Cook's injury, Murray has 46 carries for 98 yards (2.13 average) with no TDs. Jerick McKinnon had some success running the ball in his first two games after Cook went down -- 95 yards on 16 carries at Chicago and 69 yards on 15 carries vs. Green Bay -- but in the last two games he has a combined 97 yards on 28 rushes (3.46 average). Like Cook, McKinnon does present some danger as a pass-catcher, with 20 receptions over the last four games. The Vikings did add former Washington running back Mack Brown on a waiver claim last week, however his role is underdetermined and he seems more like a depth addition. Either way, is this team good enough to grind out the yards, especially when the weather turns colder?
Will Kai Forbath cost the team a game?
This might be a strange one to mention, after all Forbath has been rock solid on his field-goal tries, connecting on 21 of 22 as had made all nine attempts from 40+ yards (including 4 of 4 from 50+). But Forbath has made just 12 of 16 (75 percent) extra-point attempts. Only two players have a worse extra-point percentage in the NFL this season: Philadelphia's Caleb Sturgis, who was 1 of 2 before heading to injured reserve, and Dallas' Jeff Heath, a safety who made 2 of 3 in an emergency situation after Dan Bailey was injured and couldn't kick. Only one other kicker is below 80 percent this season -- Nick Folk, who was cut by Tampa Bay a few weeks ago. Forbath's gaffes haven't cost Minnesota -- yet. But if he can't get it straightened out, it's only a matter of time before it does.
USA TODAY SportsBrad Rempel
Is there enough defensive depth?
Minnesota has been able to survive -- and thrive -- despite injuries to key offensive players quarterback Sam Bradford, running back Dalvin Cook and wide receiver Stefon Diggs. The defense, for the most part, has not had its depth tested. That's probably a good thing. The backups include a number of untested players, such as defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson, safety Jayron Kearse, defensive end Stephen Weatherly and linebacker Eric Wilson, as well as players who haven't thrived when given chances previously, such as defensive backs Mackensie Alexander and Anthony Harris.
Associated PressJim Mone
Can the Vikings be road warriors?
Minnesota is not only in the mix for a playoff spot, but also potentially a first-round bye as a 1 or 2 seed. At 6-2, the Vikings enter their bye with the second-best record in the NFC. However, there are three teams at 5-2 who could match Minnesota this weekend -- the Rams, Saints and Seahawks. The Vikings path to a bye, the playoffs or even the NFC North title will be carved out on the road. Five of Minnesota's final eight games are away from home, including a could-be-rough three-game stretch at Detroit, Atlanta and Carolina starting Thanksgiving. The Vikings also play at Washington coming out of the bye and in Green Bay (in which Aaron Rodgers just possibly could play) in the second-to-last game of the year. If Minnesota can win at least two of its three remaining home games (vs. the Rams, Bengals and Bears), that's eight wins -- so figure at the least needing two more wins and 3-4 to get help ensure a bye. How the Vikings do on the road will determine their January plans.