Vikings Could See 4th Backup QB of Season in Buffalo

Vikings Could See 4th Backup QB of Season in Buffalo
Jun 15, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Case Keenum (18) drops back to pass during minicamp at the ADPRO Sports Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports.

The Buffalo Bills lost to the New York Jets 20-17 on Sunday, and quarterback Josh Allen injured his elbow late in the contest. The Minnesota Vikings pulled off a 20-17 score of their own but came out on the winning end versus the Washington Commanders.

And when the two teams meet in Week 10, the Bills may be without Allen, the league’s MVP frontrunner.

In addition to MVP frontrunner status for Allen, Buffalo is the NFL’s odds-on favorite to capture Super Bowl LVII. Attaining homefield advantage is preferable in the postseason, meaning a healthy Allen against the Vikings is also vital.

NFL's Top QBs after Week 2: PFF, DVOA, EPA+CPOE Formula
Sep 8, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

While Allen certainly isn’t ruled out of the tryst with the Vikings, this is precisely how the news cycle would start if his status were questionable — “will know more later in the week” and “too soon to know about availability.”

If the elbow put the 26-year-old on the shelf for a week or two, the Vikings would face an old friend, Case Keenum. He was Minnesota’s QB2 in 2017, who ascended to stardom as QB1 after an injury to Sam Bradford. Keenum led the Vikings to an NFC Championship appearance before his luck ran out at the Philadelphia Eagles.

Since then, Keenum was bounced around the NFL, attempting to replicate his lightning-in-a-bottle experience with the Vikings, to no avail. Minnesota was 11-3 (.785) with Keenum at the helm in 2017, but the Denver Broncos, Washington Commanders, and Cleveland Browns were 9-17 (.346) with Keenum at QB1 from 2018 to 2021.

Keenum has never started a game for the Bills.

'Miracle' Duo Excited to Reunite
Case Keenum and Stefon Diggs

A possible Keenum start isn’t the only former-player storyline on tap in Week 10. The Bills allowed nose tackle Harrison Phillips to depart in free agency eight months ago, and the defender found his way to the Vikings roster, where he’s tallied a 70.1 Pro Football Grade grade. Phillips spent four years in Buffalo.

Stefon Diggs, the co-architect of the Minneapolis Miracle with Keenum, ventured to Buffalo in 2020 and has flourished since. The Vikings traded Diggs to the Bills and gained Justin Jefferson and safety Camryn Bynum in return through draft picks.

As side notes, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier was Minnesota’s head coach from mid-2010 to 2013. He’ll see his former team again on Sunday. Xavier Rhodes and Zach Davidson, who used to play for the Vikings, are now on Buffalo’s practice squad. So, it’s storyline central for Bills-Vikings.

In recent years, the Vikings have racked up naughty losses to backup quarterbacks, including Andy Dalton (Cowboys), Cooper Rush (Cowboys), Chase Daniel (Bears), Matt Moore (Chiefs), etc. But that was with a different coaching staff.

The Vikings are 3-0 against backup quarterbacks to date in 2022 — Andy Dalton (Saints), Skylar Thompson and Teddy Bridgewater (Dolphins), and Taylor Heinicke (Commanders).

For now, Vegas expects Allen to play, as Buffalo is favored by seven points to down Minnesota.

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).