Former Viking Can Reach Hero Status in Minnesota

The Minnesota Vikings entered Week 17 in the second seed of the NFC playoff picture. All they had to do was win out or win as many games as the San Francisco 49ers. Even the first seed was still possible after the Philadelphia Eagles lost their noon game.

Later in the day, things started to worsen for the Vikings. At first, the Vikings got blown out by the Packers, and then, the 49ers won a nailbiter in overtime against the Raiders. The Vikings lost their number two seed and, with that, home-field advantage against the 49ers.

Hosting a playoff game is much more than a technicality. It is a real advantage. The 49ers are possibly the hottest team in the league right now, and it would be essential for the Vikings, a team that many believe is not very good, to play a potential game against the 49ers in U.S. Bank Stadium.

Former Viking Can Reach
Oct 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery (32) and Minnesota Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

To slide back into the second spot in the NFC, the Vikings have to win their Week 18 game in Chicago, and the 49ers have to lose or tie their divisional matchup against the Cardinals.

Of course, the Cardinals have long been eliminated from playoff contention after their catastrophic season, including an unfortunate ACL injury of their star quarterback, Kyler Murray.

Former Viking Can Reach Hero Status in Minnesota

Career backup Colt McCoy, a game-managing pocket passer without any meaningful threat to opponents, replaced Murray. After he suffered a concussion, the Cardinals signed Vikings practice squad quarterback David Blough. However, they started Trace McSorley, a former Ravens backup who can move outside of the pocket but does not possess the throwing ability of an NFL quarterback.

Jan 1, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback David Blough. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

After just one game with McSorley under center, the Cardinals turned to Blough as their starting quarterback. Blough finished the game in Atlanta with 24 of 40 passes completed for 222 passing yards, and he added a touchdown without turning the ball over.

The Falcons got away with a win, but Blough showed that he belongs in the league. That was a big difference from when he started five games for the Lions in 2019 and passed for four touchdowns and six interceptions in those games. The Cardinals named him the starter for their season finale.

He’ll now face a 49ers defense that looked invincible for most of the season but allowed a Jarrett Stidham-led Raiders team to score 34 points against them. Blough could help his former team. He was a member of the Vikings practice squad between September 1 and December 14.

However, he will be without star receiver DeAndre Hopkins who has been ruled out with a knee injury. The NFC West showdown will occur at 3:25 pm, curiously after the conclusion of the Vikings game, so the 49ers will know exactly if they have to win. Blough could become an unexpected hero in Minnesota with a victorious game. The 49ers are 14-point favorites.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt