Vikings Now in the Driver’s Seat
Four weeks ago, the Minnesota Vikings fell to a 1-4 record after losing to the Kansas City Chiefs, and the league’s reigning Offensive Player of the Year, Justin Jefferson, headed to injured reserve.
The season was lost, and folks spent oodles of time chatting about how the franchise should “tank.”
Vikings Now in the Driver’s Seat
It didn’t take long for the tanking dialogue to become utterly laughable as the club began stacking wins. Four games later, without Jefferson, the Vikings are owners of a 4-0 record since the loss to Kansas City and currently own the NFC’s No. 7 playoff seed, a half-game out of fifth place and 1.5 behind the Detroit Lions in the NFC North.
And after four consecutive wins over the Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers, and Atlanta Falcons, Minnesota is in the driver’s seat to reach the postseason. The odds for such an adventure were puny a month ago, but the winning streak cured all.
In particular, the Vikings have defeated the Packers and Falcons in the last eight days, two clubs that could sniff around the NFC’s wildcard playoff spots. Toppling those squads enhanced Minnesota’s tiebreaker standings, with another important game afoot this weekend at U.S. Bank Stadium against the 5-4 New Orleans Saints.
After Week 9, these are the Vikings current playoff probabilities from various sources:
Of course, the purple team’s playoff chances will reside on newcomer quarterback Josh Dobbs’ wherewithal to learn the offense. He joined the Vikings on Halloween and somehow helped the Vikings defeat the Falcons on Sunday. Dobbs encountered about three huge gaffes, which may be expected for a man who didn’t know the playbook entirely.
But if the veteran passer learns the offense in the several days and removes the goofy fumbles, Minnesota may be primed for a 2017-life postseason push. The last two times the Vikings lost their QB1 — Daunte Culpepper in 2005 and Sam Bradford in 2017 — they fired off winning streaks: six straight victories in 2005 and eight in 2017.
Head coach Kevin O’Connell said about the state of his team and its culture after knocking off Atlanta, “There’s so much about it, when you think about all the things you talk about every single day in your organization, that people matter, that culture matters, building the type of football team we’re going to have, what’s inside each and every guy in that locker room and the feelings they have toward one another.”
O’Connell’s Vikings are 15-4 in one-score game since he took the big job 21 months ago.
“These are the days that kind of cement why you believe what you believe as a coach. I’ll quite honestly remember this one for a really long time, mainly for those guys, the adversity, the response, all the things we spend a lot of time talking about it,” O’Connell added.
The Vikings playoff probability will climb to 81% with a win over the Saints on Sunday, per the New York Times‘ postseason simulator.
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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 Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).