Vikings Need 3 of Next 4 to Be on Track

The Vikings Final Injury Report: Week 14
Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports.

It took a meeting versus the rebuilding Carolina Panthers, but the Minnesota Vikings clawed into the win column last weekend, downing Frank Reich’s young team, 21-13.

The Vikings used fancy defense — a group that allowed zero touchdowns — and two Justin Jefferson scores to send Carolina southward at 0-4 through Week 4.

Vikings Need 3 of Next 4 to Be on Track

Now, Minnesota “only” has to win three of its next four games to get on track.

Vikings Need 3
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

What is “track?” Well, the postseason and perhaps gnawing at the Detroit Lions paws for the NFC North crown. It may feel like a longshot on October 4th — it should, in fact — but the Vikings have a path to right the ship. And if one believes Kevin O’Connell’s team can quickly remedy its turnover problem, the agenda to hit a 4-4 record by Halloween isn’t insurmountable.

Here’s the Vikings schedule (home games in red):

  • Week 1: Buccaneers (9/10) — LOSS
  • Week 2: at Eagles (9/14, TNF) — LOSS
  • Week 3: Chargers (9/24) — LOSS
  • Week 4: at Panthers (10/1)WIN
  • Week 5: Chiefs (10/8)
  • Week 6: at Bears (10/15)
  • Week 7: 49ers (10/23, MNF)
  • Week 8: at Packers (10/29)
  • Week 9: at Falcons (11/5)
  • Week 10: Saints (11/12)
  • Week 11: at Broncos (11/19, SNF)
  • Week 12: Bears (11/27, MNF)
  • Week 13: BYE
  • Week 14: at Raiders (12/10)
  • Week 15: at Bengals (TBD)
  • Week 16: Lions (12/24)
  • Week 17: Packers (12/31, SNF)
  • Week 18: at Lions (1/7)
Coach Power
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Inside these three upcoming games, Minnesota needs a 3-1 record:

  • Week 5: Chiefs (10/8)
  • Week 6: at Bears (10/15)
  • Week 7: 49ers (10/23, MNF)
  • Week 8: at Packers (10/29)

Why? Well, the mushy part of the docket arrives in Week 9.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota needs two division wins on the road against the hated Bears and Packers, plus a sneaky dub versus either the Chiefs or 49ers. You can pick the opponent. Thereafter, the Vikings take on a schedule from Week 9 to Week 14 with a combined record (at the moment) of 6-14 (.300).

  • Week 9: at Falcons (11/5)
  • Week 10: Saints (11/12)
  • Week 11: at Broncos (11/19, SNF)
  • Week 12: Bears (11/27, MNF)
  • Week 13: BYE
  • Week 14: at Raiders (12/10)
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

Then, in Week 15, the Vikings meet a Bengals team that could be totally rejuvenated and eyeing a playoff push — or one with Joe Burrow perhaps on the shelf nursing the nagging calf injury. If the latter transpires, Minnesota would face ex-Vikings passer Jake Browning.

Assuming — yes, it’s a large assumption — that the Vikings have made the 2023 campaign interesting, the itinerary after Cincinnati is akin to a game from the Saw film franchise. Minnesota plays Green Bay and Detroit thrice in the final three games, and both clubs could be near the top of the division. In that regard, the Vikings would control their path to a division chip or wildcard berth.

  • Week 16: Lions (12/24)
  • Week 17: Packers (12/31, SNF)
  • Week 18: at Lions (1/7)

Of course, this enthusiastic theory is predicated on the Vikings fixing their turnover problem. Not much matters when a team ranks at the bottom of the NFL per most giveaways.

But if they flip the script, this is the way.


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 OverTheCap.com.

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