Adam Thielen’s Injury
Adam Thielen injured his hamstring way back in Week 7. It was thought at the time that he would return to the field in just a week or two. While he did make a brief appearance in the Vikings’ Week 9 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs, Thielen’s injury keeps flaring back up and it has kept him on the sideline.
Without Thielen, Minnesota’s offense has actually done well. Kirk Cousins is red hot and he has been spreading the ball around to a lot of different targets. Stefon Diggs has become the big play guy and the Vikings have won more games than they have lost in the stretch without Thielen.
The problem is if Minnesota is going to beat a very good team like the New Orleans Saints or the San Franciso 49ers in the playoffs, they are going to need Thielen in the lineup.
Thielen has a knack for making tough catches at key times. Whether it’s on 3rd and long, or 4th and short, he is Cousins’ go-to target when he needs to keep a drive going. He also is his favorite option in the red zone and while Kyle Rudolph has filled in admirably, Thielen is still the best getting open inside the 20-yard line.
Having Thielen in the lineup also loosens things up for the running game. Teams can’t stack the box with both him and Diggs on the field. This gives Dalvin Cook one less defender to worry about and he can create extra space on the outside.
The Vikings’ run game has faltered a bit with Thielen on the sidelines and that is one aspect they’ll need humming if they are going to advance far in the postseason.
Thielen is absolutely vital to the success of Minnesota. Without him in the lineup, they can still beat the teams they are supposed. But they won’t be able to beat a high-quality opponent on the road with him watching in street clothes.