Double Digits Are Still Achievable for Minnesota

let Justin Jefferson
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When the Minnesota Vikings found themselves at 0-3 to start the season, it looked like their year would be worth throwing away. When Justin Jefferson and Kirk Cousins went down, problems got even worse. Now, though, it appears double-digit wins are still a good possibility.

Double Digits Are Still Achievable for Minnesota

Back in August, it seemed possible that Kevin O’Connell’s second season leading the Minnesota Vikings would result in fewer wins but potentially a better team. It’s hard to argue against that occurring at this juncture, even with Kirk Cousins out for the season. The quarterback position has seen a significant downgrade, but the team as a whole is a much more well-rounded group.

Double Digits
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Although an initial thought process behind winning ten games included victories during Week 1 and Week 3, it really doesn’t matter how they get there. Minnesota has just five games remaining and needs to go 4-1 to make it happen, but there is a very logical path to making that happen.

Beating the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday is where it starts. They come in as three-point favorites while on the road, but fans have traveled, and it could feel like a home game. The Raiders are not a good team, and despite Minnesota having dropped two winnable contests in a row, an additional week of preparation should do them well.

The contest against Cincinnati was one in which the Vikings could have chalked up as a loss. Facing Joe Burrow on the road would never be an enviable task, but he has since been lost for the season, and it is the Jake Browning show now. Browning put up just ten points in his first start against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he pulled off an upset win against the Jaguars on the road. The Bengals are hardly a cakewalk still, but that is a game Minnesota can steal.

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jake Browning (6) calls a play during the third quarter of a regular season NFL football matchup Monday, Dec. 4, 2023, at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla. The Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 34-31 in overtime. © Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY NETWORK.

From there, it becomes the NFC North divisional show. Minnesota finishes with a home game against the Lions, a home game against the Packers, and a road test in Detroit. That first Lions game is one they will need to take if they want to make the playoffs. Detroit is a much-improved team this year, but they aren’t unbeatable. Using the homefield advantage and playing good football is a must. O’Connell has to find a way for his guys to get it done.

Minnesota has already knocked off Green Bay once this year, and it wasn’t close. That was a road game, and Jordan Love looked the part of a terrible quarterback. He has since taken steps forward in his development, but the Vikings can’t afford to let a team breathing down their necks knock them off at home. Going 2-0 in the rivalry games this season would be enormous, and it should position them well for a playoff game.

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Closing out the season in Detroit is a big ask. The Vikings will be underdogs and could play with a lot on the line. If they drop the first contest to the Lions, they will have no choice but to grab an even more difficult result. The hope would be that Minnesota can split the seasonal matchup, which would get them ten wins for the year.

Ultimately, ripping off four wins in the next five weeks is not an easy task. It doesn’t get any less difficult, considering a surefire playoff team is on the schedule twice, and a resilient opponent in Cincinnati still looms. That said, it’s a road manageable for a team with playoff aspirations, and if O’Connell wants to show his coaching prowess, navigating the final gauntlet would be a great way to do so.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.