Vikings Target New Primary Foe

Vikings Target New Primary Foe
Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Some news about the Minnesota Vikings developed over the weekend — if they can topple the Buffalo Bills on the road, they can beat anybody.

The Vikings overpowered the Bills on Sunday, 33-30, courtesy of Justin Jefferson, Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook, Patrick Peterson, and dozens others. And because Minnesota was not supposed to win that contest — not against the NFL’s Super Bowl darling — Kevin O’Connell and Co. now target a new primary foe, the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Eagles shellacked the Vikings two months ago in Philadelphia and have a one-game lead, plus a sturdy tiebreaker, over Minnesota in the NFC’s evolving playoff race.

Oct 9, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Detailed view of a Philadelphia Eagles helmet at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Generally at this time on an NFL calendar, the Vikings enviously stare at the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North and the NFC postseason standings. Now, though, the script is flipped, and Packers faithful are glaring at the Vikings. Green Bay no longer poses a serious threat to Minnesota’s NFC North aspirations in 2022, as the Packers need the Vikings to finish 1-7 or 2-6 while they run the table to win the division. Frankly, that seems impossible at the rate the Vikings are winning.

Therefore, the Packers are not the Vikings primary foe, at least not until the teams meet in Week 17, they somehow meet in the postseason, or the calendar reads September 2023.

That’s right — for the next several weeks, it’s the Eagles who Vikings fans can target with ire. Philadelphia must start losing a few ballgames while the Vikings finish one game ahead of Jalen Hurts’ club.

Jalen Hurts Did Something to Vikings That's Never Happened Before
Sep 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports.

For now, if Philadelphia doesn’t lose one game more than Minnesota, the Vikings could bank on two home playoff games — one from the wildcard round and the other in the divisional sector (assuming they take care of business in the first playoff game). Make no mistake, two home playoff games aren’t an outlook to take for granted.

Yet, the Vikings can be greedy after an 8-1 start. It’s no longer unrealistic for the team to finish 15-2 or so while the Eagles regress to 14-3. Or Minnesota at 14-3, with Philadelphia at 13-4. The math? The Viking must finish one game better than the Eagles. Write that down.

Why? This would enable absolute homefield advantage in the playoffs. The road to Super Bowl LVII would intersect U.S. Bank Stadium. Although the Vikings can evidently win anywhere — they proved it against the Bills in Week 10 — facing the NFL’s best in Minneapolis seems like a wiser strategy.

Dustin Baker's Midseason Power Rankings
Sep 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) and Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports.

So, strap on your anti-Eagles sentiments — those won’t be hard to find — and cheer for these teams in the next two months:

  • vs. Washington Commanders
  • at Indianapolis Colts
  • vs. Green Bay Packers
  • vs. Tennessee Titans
  • at New York Giants
  • at Chicago Bears
  • at Dallas Cowboys
  • vs. New Orleans Saints
  • vs. New York Giants

Yes, that involves rooting for the Packers, Bears, Saints, and Cowboys. You’ll just have to deal with it.

The process starts Monday night as the Eagles host the Taylor Heinicke-led Commanders.

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).