Carolina Provides Good Memories for Vikings WR in Need of Big Game

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Heading into the 2023 season, the Minnesota Vikings hyped up their current wide receivers as “three deep,” a nod to the 1998 trio of Randy Moss, Cris Carter, and Jake Reed. That threesome looked to be helping the Vikings near a Super Bowl back in 1998 after a 15-1 regular season.

Carolina Provides Good Memories for Vikings WR in Need of Big Game

Of course, this is Vikings football, and it all went horribly wrong. Nevertheless, the Vikings high-powered offense was lauded by all, with their trio of wide receivers leading the way.

Carolina Provides
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Hopes for a similar impact from this season’s Vikings haven’t quite come to fruition. Unsurprisingly, Justin Jefferson has more than lived up to the hype, and first-round rookie Jordan Addison has also enjoyed a good start to the season. However, it’s not been so positive for K.J. Osborn, who has been heavily criticized over the first three games. The result is that the Vikings sit with a 0-3 record, and the whole season hangs in the balance with us only in Week 4. This certainly is not a rerun of the 1998 season.

Osborn’s Difficult Start to 2023 Season

Osborn has two touchdowns from the first three games, but the positives end there. When he was inserted as the WR2 on the depth chart ahead of Addison, the questions began to be asked. Should he really be ahead of the first-rounder on the depth chart? It always felt like a veteran courtesy, and Addison would usurp him at some point. We are already at the point where that should happen, as the rookie is shining while Osborn has struggled.

Bust at Wideout
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A return to the WR3, who can make plays in big moments, is probably best for Osborn. He is averaging 33.7 receiving yards per game with seven receptions on 15 targets with a catch success percentage of just 46.7%. They are not WR2 stats, especially in an offense that relies so heavily on the passing game. Two poorly dropped catches against the Eagles were a low point of the opening three games. Self-inflicted errors have riddled the Vikings opening games and are an area that must improve.

Osborn needs to find a performance to gain some confidence and restore the belief in others that he has the ability to be a vital component of the Vikings offense. The good news is Carolina provides good memories for the Vikings WR. Back in 2021, Osborn had a surprise breakthrough season that came out of nowhere. It was a trip to Charlotte that helped make that happen. It was Week 6 of 2021 when the Vikings entered Carolina and came out with a 34-28 overtime win over the Panthers. 

The Vikings 2022 Offense by the Numbers: After Week 12
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Osborn played a critical role that day, with six catches for 78 yards, four first downs, and the walk-off touchdown that sealed the win. How he — and the Vikings — could do with something similar this weekend. Osborn may never be an authentic WR2, but he can still be an important part of this offense. He needs a game that reminds people and himself what he can do at his best. Sometimes, players have stadiums where they always do well. Will this be the case for Osborn?

He can certainly go into Bank of America Stadium with the confidence of good memories. A similar performance to that of 2021 can get his season up and running while bringing back some of the belief that the Vikings have a genuine triple threat at the WR position.

Minnesota has won four of the last five meetings with Carolina and leads the all-time series 10-6. The Vikings need to keep up that excellent record on Sunday to breathe life into their season. They will need a contribution from Osborn to do so.