Vikings Became Even More Confusing on Sunday

The Minnesota Vikings weren’t “supposed to” blow out the New York Jets in Week 13, so let’s get that factoid out of the way. The Jets were 7-4 heading into the tryst.

However, when a team hops, skips, and jumps to a 20-3 lead, there’s a reasonable expectation of stepping on the opponent’s throat. The Vikings emphatically did not land the killshot but survived via 4th Quarter thriller, 27-22, climbing to 10-2 for the first time since 2017.

Now through 12 weeks of the 2022 season, fans may have to abdicate the theory that the team is sitting on a couple of future big breakout games resulting in blowouts. Aside from beating the Green Bay Packers in Week 1 by a score of 23-7, the terms blow and out are not in the franchise’s 2022 vocabulary unless the Philadelphia Eagles or Dallas Cowboys are dishing them out.

Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Mind you: all of this is totally fine. If the Vikings enjoy winning every game within a score margin — great. A 9-0 record in games with a one-score margin is dazzling, and no fan will look back and think, “screw that close-game winning team.” In fact, finding triumph in squeaker games is quite the change of pace from 2020 and 2021.

Yet, even as the winning ways are encouraged, cherished, and applauded, confusion about the team increases. Most Super Bowl-contending teams crush a few skulls by now. It’s just the circle of life in the NFL. Clubs barrelling toward the Super Bowl generally find ways to beat the other by more than eight points.

If the Vikings are to reach or win Super Bowl LVII, they’re evidently going to be the exception to the rule — which is, again, totally hunky dory.

Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

One minute, Kirk Cousins and his buddies will hit on all offensive cylinders. Twenty minutes later, they are doomed to 3-and-Out hell. In one quarter, opposing offenses are prancing up and down the field on the Vikings defense. An hour later, Minnesota’s defense orchestrates a goalline stand that actually feels expected. Greg Joseph misses extra points — then he’s perfect for a day. You might look at the scoreboard and see Vikings 20, Jets 3. Ninety minutes later, the Jets are effortlessly driving down the field to potentially win the game.

It’s all a gigantic “what in the world even is this” conundrum of a 10-2 team — that just so happens to own the NFL’s second-best record.

Therefore, in prognosticating what comes next for the confounding group, you have two options:

1.) Choose to believe that the Vikings will become the first team in NFL history to win a Super Bowl by not dominating anybody, ever. That’s fine. It would be very Viking-ish to carve such a bizarre path to the first Lombardi in franchise history. Sign us up. We’re on board.

2.) Doubt the purple and gold gang, and just forebodingly assume the bottom will fall out when it matters the most because, well, “these guys never had the gumption to mop the floor with anybody.”

Which side are you on? In the middle?

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).