3 Things Must Happen for Vikings to Beat Chiefs

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Outside of meaningless end-of-season games where the team rest starters, the Minnesota Vikings have never been a five-point (or greater) underdog at U.S. Bank Stadium.

But that could change this weekend when the Kansas City Chiefs and Taylor Swift stroll into the Twin Cities. As of Tuesday morning, the Chiefs are favored to defeat the Vikings by five points.

3 Things Must Happen for Vikings to Beat Chiefs

And while Minnesota may not have the juice to topple the world champions, Kevin O’Connell’s team does have a wee bit of momentum after a road victory over Carolina in Week 4.

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The Vikings used defense and two Justin Jefferson touchdowns to outlast the Panthers last weekend, now hoping to win back-to-back games for the first time since Christmas Eve.

On the whole, if the Vikings are to defeat the Chiefs, here’s how they’ll do it. Keep in mind, all three of these items must occur, not just one or two.

Don’t Abandon the Run

Must Happen for Vikings
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Often, when the O’Connell brand of Vikings begins to feel a slight slippage of good fortune, Minnesota rears back and decides to throw the football ad nauseam. O’Connell played quarterback in college and the NFL, so the playcalling tendency makes sense.

But he can’t do that against the Chiefs.

Write this down, and tell your friends — the Chiefs pass defense is good, and the Chiefs run defense is not. Per DVOA, Kansas City ranks 10th per passing defense and 20th in rushing defense.

Too frequently, the Vikings lose the time of possession battle, chiefly (pun intended) because they abandon the rushing attack. O’Connell cannot do that versus Kansas City in Week 5. Even if Mahomes, Kelce, and Swift jump out to a 14-0 lead — that’s very possible — the Vikings must continue to balance the playcalling, if only to keep the time of possession war somewhat tight.

If O’Connell decides to throw the pigskin 50 times, the Vikings will lose. Plain and simple.

Win the Turnover Battle

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A cogent argument can be made that the Vikings are a good football team with a turnover disease.

Every game in 2023 has featured confounding turnovers, and if the purple team simply handed the ball to opponents at a normal rate, it could have a 3-1 record right now.

Well, any 99-yard pick-sixes from Kirk Cousins or silly Alexander Mattison fumbles will doom the Vikings on Sunday. The team got away with it against Carolina, but that’s because they’re the Panthers.

Should the Vikings, alas, win the turnover battle in a game, they can actually defeat the Chiefs.

The Good Verison of Kirk

These Vikings Are Designed
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During the Vikings first three games, Kirk Cousins performed wonderfully. The team lost them all.

Last weekend, Cousins encountered a bad-Kirk game, by his standards, and the Vikings won. It’s truly mind-boggling how that works.

In Week 5, all the good stuff must happen simultaneously. Cousins must cook, and the club must protect and run the football. It won’t do any good for Cousins to dime 4 touchdowns + 0 interceptions if Minnesota loses three fumbles. The margin for error against Kansas City is teensy.

Weeks 1-3 Cousins must be accompanied by the good parts from the win over Carolina. For once, the Vikings disjointed positives must coagulate on the same day.

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.