There’s One Reason Why the Week 14 Vikings Will Look Vastly Different

Explained: Fallout from Vikings Win over New England
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With the victories of the division foes Green Bay and Detroit and the wins of Sean McVay’s Rams, the Falcons, and the Buccaneers, the NFC playoff picture looks a lot different than a couple of weeks or even a few days ago. The Vikings are no longer a sure bet to reach the postseason, although they are still the current sixth seed.

There’s One Reason Why the Week 14 Vikings Will Look Vastly Different

The franchise has lost two straight games, mainly because of self-inflicted wounds, as they can’t seem to fix their turnover struggles. A major part of that is Joshua Dobbs, who has been a turnover machine lately and is in jeopardy of losing his job to Nick Mullens or the longshot Jaren Hall. The good news is that defensive coordinator Brian Flores has formed a fantastic defense that keeps the team in games despite the erratic offense in his first season in charge.

One Reason Why the Week 14 Vikings Will Look Vastly Different
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Besides that silver lining, there is another one. Justin Jefferson, the team’s superstar and best player, will return in Week 14 when the Vikings travel to Las Vegas to take on the Raiders, a team that has been much improved after making a change at the head coaching position.

Jefferson has been sidelined since his hamstring injury in Week 5 against the Chiefs. His late-game absence was followed by the mandatory four-game stint on injured reserve and three more games as both the team and the All-Pro took the safe approach. With the bye week, he had a break of eight weeks and should be at 100%.

camp schedule
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The receiver is not just an ordinary player for the Vikings. He is their best player, the face of the franchise. He is fully expected to reset the WR market in the upcoming offseason after breaking a multitude of records throughout his career.

Kevin O’Connell’s offense changes with him in the lineup. Everything is designed to get him open, and quarterbacks take chances to get the ball to him when he is not. Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson suddenly see favorable matchups, and the boxes get lighter, giving the horrendous running game some hope.

Vikings Make Final Call
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Jefferson has racked up 571 yards in five games this season, putting him in a position to break the single-season record. The injury has disrupted that trajectory. How Kirk Cousins’ injury affects Jefferson’s numbers is also a mystery. The three backups can’t feed him the ball as well as Cousins does, although his target rate should remain high as he continues to be the offense’s focal point.

The aforementioned Hockenson and Addison have done an admirable job of replacing the former LSU standout, but the magic faded in the last two games, with receivers failing to make plays. Jefferson’s return changes everything the Vikings do on offense, and rarely has a return from injury ever been this anticipated.

His resume as the reigning Offensive Player of the Year, three Pro Bowl trips, and three All-Pro team nominations speaks for itself. The exceptional talent will turn 25 in June, and there is a good chance he will become the league’s highest-paid wide receiver.

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