Nobody Believes in Vikings This Weekend

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports.

Had the Minnesota Vikings lost to the Las Vegas Raiders last weekend, this Saturday’s game at the Cincinnati Bengals would’ve been a desperation game, a virtual elimination bout.

But Minnesota eeked out a 3-0 win at Las Vegas, so the stress level in Week 15 reduced.

Nobody Believes in Vikings This Weekend

Of course, the Vikings should win to further tack on certainty for a postseason appearance, but a loss wouldn’t be doomsdayist.

Nobody Believes
Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports.

And according to the NFL’s general population, Minnesota will not, in fact, defeat Cincinnati. By a strangely wide margin, experts predict a Bengals’ win on Saturday. According to the website NFLPickWatch, which logs all pundits’ weekly picks, 80% of folks believe the Vikings will lose at Paycor Stadium.

Oddsmakers agree, too — just not overwhelmingly. Vegas forecasts a Bengals victory by three points. That coincides with rule-of-thumb homefield advantage, so sportsbooks basically think Minnesota and Cincinnati are evenly matched.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase (1) breaks away from Baltimore Ravens safety Marcus Williams (32) on a reception in the first quarter of the NFL Week 18 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens at Paycor Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023. The Bengals led 24-7 at halftime. © Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Of course, the great equalizer for Saturday could be Vikings wideout Justin Jefferson. The league’s Offensive Player of the Year (2022) was injured — again — in Week 14, about 45 minutes after his return from a seven-game absence. Jefferson sustained a chest injury and is questionable for Bengals-Vikings.

Whether Minnesota can peel a victory off the Bengals may boil down to Jefferson, who is supposed to be ready to roll for the game (shout out to ESPN’s Adam Schefter).

Must fix himself
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

CBS SportsPete Prisco predicted a Vikings loss (23-17) on Wednesday, “The Bengals have won two straight to get back into the playoff race behind Jake Browning. The Vikings won 3-0 over the Raiders last week, which tells you all you need to know about the offense. Nick Mullens will be the starter this week after coming off the bench last week for Joshua Dobbs. It won’t matter. Browning will play well and lead the Bengals to a third consecutive victory.”

Sporting NewsBill Bender agreed, choosing the Bengals 24-17 and explaining, “Jake Browning has an 82% completion percentage in his last two starts, and the Bengals have enough talent to make a run to the AFC playoffs. Minnesota (92.9) ranks in the top five in rush defense, but the tandem of Joe Mixon and Chase Brown — a late-season fantasy game — will be enough against a Vikings’ team that is shuffling quarterbacks, too.”

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jake Browning (6) comes off the field on fourth down in the fourth quarter of the NFL Week 12 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati on Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023. The Steelers took a 16-10 win over the Bengals in Cincinnati.

The Vikings haven’t won at Cincinnati in 31 years. They’ve also never won back-to-back road games at AFC destinations in consecutive weeks.

If Minnesota does prevail, the defensive calling card will be why. Per every credible metric, the Vikings’ defense is suddenly a Top 5 unit, totally storming the league since the start of Week 4.

The Vikings will face a former one-of-their-won in Cincinnati, Jake Browning, a quarterback on Minnesota’s roster in 2019, 2020, and some of 2021.

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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by