Minnesota sports weekend: Talking Vikings and Timberwolves

Saints Vikings Football
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws a pass in front of New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (98) during the first half of a game on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018, in Minneapolis.
Bruce Kluckhohn | AP

It's the midway point of the NFL season — and there's no clear front-runner in the NFC North.

The Chicago Bears lead the division by percentage points over the Minnesota Vikings. The Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions are close behind.

That adds significance to Sunday's game between the Vikings and Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

MPR News' Jeffrey Bissoy-Mattis spoke with Weekend Edition Saturday host John Wanamaker about that matchup — along with reviewing Derrick Rose's 50-point game for the Timberwolves earlier this week.

The Vikings are 4-3-1, and coming off a tough loss to the New Orleans Saints.

"I think the big question is, 'Can (Vikings quarterback) Kirk Cousins bounce back?' A lot of people have been asking the question, 'Is Kirk Cousins worth the $84 million (contract) this week, after last week's game against the Saints?' " Bissoy-Mattis said. "The answer is yes, he is worth the money. The throws that he can make, and what he's brought to this team thus far this year have shown that he's worth the money. Now how he bounces back in this game is extremely important."

Derrick Rose,Dante Exum
Minnesota Timberwolves' Derrick Rose (right) takes a fall-back shot as Utah Jazz's Dante Exum defends in the first half of a game Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018, in Minneapolis.
Jim Mone | AP

Looking back at the Timberwolves' win over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night: Star Jimmy Butler, who remains with Minnesota after asking for a trade before the season, sat out the game. In his absence, Derrick Rose — a one-time NBA MVP who has struggled with injuries in recent years — scored 50 points.

The uncertainty and controversy surrounding Butler have cast a pall on the Timberwolves' season so far.

"You saw a glimpse of what things look like when Jimmy is not around," Bissoy-Mattis said of Wednesday's win. "There's this joy — you're seeing Karl-Anthony Towns smiling, coming up and picking up Derrick Rose in the locker room ... You get a sense that for at least one night, there is peace. At least for one night, there is joy."

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