Are The Vikings Truly Contenders?
After a somewhat convincing win against the Cardinals, who are better than their record, it’s time to have the contender conversation. The Minnesota Vikings stand at 6-1 and seemingly have the NFC North locked up. This leaves us with one question, are the Vikings truly contenders?
The national media hasn’t been having serious conversations about the Vikings. The discussion is beginning, but it is nowhere near the level of the Bills, Chiefs, and Eagles. This seems fair, as these teams have been far more convincing in their wins — whereas the Vikings are scraping their way to victories.
However, wins are wins. This Vikings team is almost on its way to the playoffs, barring something catastrophic. But what happens when the playoffs begin? Can the Vikings compete against the 49ers, Cowboys, and Eagles?
Well, thankfully, we should be able to answer some of these questions over the next three weeks. This Vikings team is much better than in Week 2 when the Eagles decimated them. However, we cannot answer whether they can compete with the Eagles until the playoffs.
Over the next three weeks, the Vikings will play the Commanders, Bills, and Cowboys. Needless to say, the month of November will tell us a lot about this team. Are they frauds, or can they compete and beat the best teams in the league?
November Schedule Is a Gauntlet
When I wrote my prediction article before the season, I had the Vikings sitting at 4-3 as of now. I still had them winning 10 games by the season’s end. Now at 6-1, a 12+ win season seems very plausible. Although, we are really asking ourselves, can the team win a Super Bowl?
A few things must happen in November if they truly want to be labeled as contenders, not pretenders.
Step 1 – The Vikings must convincingly beat a Commanders team that is just not very good. Sure, they have won their last three games, but they have been against a very bad Bears team, a Packers team whose offense seems lost without Davante Adams, and barely nudged out a victory against a struggling Colts team. Heinicke has brought them some life, but the Vikings must win this game in impressive fashion.
Step 2 – When they play the Bills, everyone will be projecting a loss for the Vikings. We should expect the Bills to be at least 7-point favorites in this game. Of course, a win here for the Vikings would put them on the radar for all NFL pundits. It would be Super Bowl or bust time. However, what we as fans should be looking for is, can the Vikings be competitive in this game? Or will it be another blowout loss like when they played the Eagles?
Step 3 – The Vikings must beat the Cowboys. Regardless of what happens against the Bills, the Vikings have a home game against the Cowboys. A win here would most certainly push the Vikings to be legitimate contenders in the NFC.
There has been tons of discussion about the Vikings being real or fraudulent over the last month. Now, with the schedule in November, there is nowhere left for them to hide. We will know who they are and where they stand in the NFL by month’s end.
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Mitch Massman is a lifelong Vikings fan. His first heartbreak was the 1998 NFC championship game. His full-time job is as an economic development professional in rural Minnesota. He fantasizes about the Vikings winning a Super Bowl one day, but until then he will write about the Vikings. Follow him on Twitter @skol_vikings3