Vikings Can Cool the Jake Browning Hype

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.

The Minnesota Vikings see a familiar face this weekend when they head to Cincinnati and square off against the Bengals and Jake Browning. Although the former Washington Husky never threw a pass in a regular season game for Minnesota, his time spent on the practice squad overlaps with plenty on the roster. Can they cool his hype train, though?

Vikings Can Cool the Jake Browning Hype

Despite never throwing a pass in an NFL game before this season, Jake Browning began getting reps as Joe Burrows’ backup. In Week 1, Browning threw one pass after the Bengals were dumped 24-3 by the Cleveland Browns. He didn’t see the field again until Week 10 when Burrows went down with an injury that would ultimately end his year not long after signing the lucrative new contract.

Vikings can cool
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Although Browning and the Bengals couldn’t complete a comeback against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 11 and came up short during the first start of his career, the former Pac-12 signal-caller has played tremendously since.

Going on the road against a revamped Jacksonville Jaguars team, Browning led the Bengals to an overtime victory. He completed 32 of 37 passes for 354 yards and a touchdown. Then, last week, Browning followed up with a win against the Indianapolis Colts in which he threw for 275 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Seemingly out of nowhere, he had elevated Cincinnati to crucial victories.

As the Vikings enter town and coming off an ugly victory, the Bengals are tabbed as favorites by more than a field goal. It isn’t that these two teams are all that different right now, but they are playing significantly different football. Cincinnati is not the same Super Bowl contender they were entering the year with Burrow, but they have been able to put points on the board. Minnesota has stayed in the hunt despite losing Kirk Cousins, but their offense has been on life support for weeks.

Vikings can cool
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jake Browning (6) throws under pressure from Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Myles Murphy (99) in the fourth quarter during a Week 14 NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati.

Inserting Nick Mullens as the starting quarterback and hopefully getting a full game from a returning Justin Jefferson should help Kevin O’Connell’s team to be infused with weapons. Still, Brian Flores’ defense has done all of the heavy lifting lately, and it’s hard to think that won’t need to continue this week. Because of Minnesota’s defense, Browning could be up against a difficult task, which may be his most complex contest yet.

If there is a way for the Vikings to grab another necessary road victory, it will take a total team effort that likely gets punctuated on defense. Slowing Browning down is something the opposition hasn’t done a great job at yet, and Minnesota must separate themselves there.

Brian Flores Weighs
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Browning hasn’t been in the Vikings organization since 2021, so it’s not as though there’s a familiarity with his growth or development of late. He clearly has stepped into big shows with the Bengals and is excelling at the moment, but finding a way to bring him crashing back down to earth after Josh Dobbs underwent that treatment a week ago maybe some nice justice.

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.