The Massive Vikings Debate Has Arrived

The Massive Vikings Debate Has Arrived
Lions fans cheer during the Lions' 34-23 win over the Vikings. © Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK.

A familiar “fraud v. contender” debate has permeated Minnesota Vikings-themed circles for a couple of months, but a new discussion has arrived — and will persist until the coaching staff offers clarity.

The debate is this: Should the Vikings rest starters at Chicago this weekend or play everybody with hopes of erasing foul memories from the loss in Green Bay?

Get your talkers ready because this debate is racing to the Vikings community — if it hasn’t arrived already.

The Massive Vikings Debate Has Arrived

The Packers thoroughly flogged the Vikings in Wisconsin on Sunday, gutting Minnesota’s lofty visions of owning the NFC’s No. 2 playoff seed. The two-seed was important because if the Vikings took care of business at U.S. Bank Stadium in the Wildcard Round, they would’ve guaranteed a second home game on Divisional weekend.

Now, the home playoff game in Round 2 is unlikely.

The Massive Vikings
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The San Francisco 49ers yanked the No. 2 seed from Minnesota and only have to defeat the awful Arizona Cardinals in Week 18 to secure the spot. Too, if the Philadelphia Eagles somehow lose to the New York Giants — those same Giants likely trending toward a playoff date with the Vikings — the 49ers would grab the No. 1 seed. San Francisco has everything to play for, meanwhile, the Vikings will debate the merits of trying to beat the Bears with their starters.

Here’s the skinny: if you’re pro-rest-starters, the mentality is derived from what happened on Sunday in Green Bay. The Vikings lost Brian O’Neill indefinitely and Austin Schlottmann for the season. Mix is Soldier Field’s notoriously terrible sandy-grass surface, and few places in the NFL provide a worse venue for potential injuries. Do you want to risk the Vikings entering the playoffs sans Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson, Danielle Hunter, Za’Darius Smith, etc.? They’d be playing the Bears with the wildly unrealistic hope that Arizona could stun San Francisco.

Vikings Players Reactions to Dallas Loss 
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

Conversely, for the play-the-starters crowd, the Vikings should probably end the regular season on a better note than playing like fools against the Packers. Theoretically, Minnesota could be waltzing into the postseason with a woeful loss to the most hated rival, plus a meaningless-but-no-momentum-fueling loss at Chicago. Does the team need to rectify sins committed versus Green Bay to project positivity in the postseason? Let the debate rage.

What Was Kevin O’Connell Doing Early against Packers?
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

What’s more, remember all those exciting chit-chats about Justin Jefferson stealing the single-season receiving yards record from Calvin Johnson or becoming the first NFLer to top 2,000 receiving yards in a season? Kiss those badboys goodbye if Kevin O’Connell rests his first-string talents.

So, let’s put this confabulation in bullet points:

Play All Starters at Chicago:

  1. Hopefully win and get “bad taste” from Green Bay out of mouth
  2. Enter the playoffs on high note
  3. Allow Justin Jefferson to pursue individual history
  4. Pray the 49ers lose to Cardinals

Rest All Starters at Chicago:

  1. Ensure the healthiest roster possible

Pick your fighter.

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).