The Minnesota Vikings Are Super Bowl Contenders

The Minnesota Vikings Are Super Bowl Contenders
Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) greets cornerback Patrick Peterson (7) after Peterson made an interception in overtime to defeat the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports.

If you weren’t a believer at 4-1, 5-1, 6-1, or 7-1, it’s time to realize the 8-1 Minnesota Vikings are bonafide Super Bowl contenders.

The Vikings downed the Buffalo Bills — the NFL’s odds-on favorite to win Super Bowl LVII — in the Bills house by a score of 33-30. The game was an absolute crazy-train event, unlike any from the annals of Vikings regular season history.

Kirk Cousins tossed a couple of unforgivable interceptions before crunchtime but turned on the gas when it mattered the most, a documented theme for the 2022 season. Justin Jefferson seized Cousins’ passes out of the air, notably keeping the day alive on a 4th and 18 transaction with the game on the line.

Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson. © JAMIE GERMANO / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Fueled by four takeaways, Minnesota merely treaded water during the game’s innards if only to avoid drowning. The team followed a familiar trend in 2022 of starting hot, encountering midgame slumps, and finishing like Mariano Rivera. Aside from the first two games, every Vikings game is the same — not a criticism, though, as the team has won seven straight. They just follow the same blueprint. Repeatedly.

This time, the opponent was the worthiest adversary imaginable. And the venue was the Bills lair, in the cold, with sputtering snow here and there. Because Minnesota took care of business over the NFL MVP frontrunner Josh Allen, it’s earned the legitimate right to slip inside Super Bowl conversations.

The Vikings hadn’t spanked an opponent in 2022 nor defeated anything close to the league’s best. Beating the Packers, Lions, Saints, Bears, Dolphins, Cardinals, and Commanders caused even the most boisterous of fans to say, “Wait until they play Buffalo.”

Well, they played Buffalo and won — in a game with enough suspense to make a Hitchcockian whodunnit seem bashful.

Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports.

Too, the Bills had about three separate moments where both teams’ fanbases thought, “Well, this one is over.” Meanwhile, the Vikings had about three separate moments where both teams’ fanbases thought, “Well, this one is over.” It was playoff football before Thanksgiving, something the Vikings evidently adore with Kevin O’Connell’s tutelage.

The Vikings slapped 33 points on the team ranked No. 1 in points allowed heading into Week 10. They handed the Bills their first home loss since last December. Cousins erased the memory of two sinful, usually-deadly interceptions. O’Connell found a way to guide his team back from a 27-10 deficit with less than one minute to go in the 3rd Quarter. And Jefferson scripted the catch of the century.

This stuff is not the norm for the Minnesota Vikings, especially from post-2009 teams.

It was probably premature to chant Super Bowl sweet-nothings last week. Yet, after outlasting the Bills — a team with mini-team-of-destiny vibes — it is no longer tongue-in-cheek to dream about the Vikings reaching Super Bowl LVII.

They deserve it — and you deserve it — after the Bills barnburner. The Vikings were supposed to be humbled in Buffalo — exposed, even. Instead, they did the humbling.

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).