4 Vikings Players Who Need a Big 2nd Half of 2023

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The Minnesota Vikings hold a 5-4 record entering Week 10, inhabiting the NFC’s seventh playoff seed and 1.5 games out of first place in the NFC North next to the Detroit Lions.

4 Vikings Players Who Need a Big 2nd Half of 2023

The club has turned the corner on doldrums from September and won four straight, with a date on tap Sunday versus the New Orleans Saints.

And if Minnesota wants to reach the postseason and do some damage in the tournament, these four players need solid, turn-the-corner performances in the next eight games. They’re ranked in ascending order (No. 1 = most urgently needs a big second half).

4. Jalen Nailor | WR

Players Who Need a Big
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A nonfactor because of injury, Nailor has missed the vast majority of the season to date. Meanwhile, the Vikings have needed additional pass-catching options with Justin Jefferson on injured reserve, but Nailor hasn’t been available, which would’ve been the perfect opportunity for the second-year playmaker to shine.

No cigar.

Of course the hamstring injury isn’t his fault, but when Nailor sees the field — probably soon — he needs some big games to set a path for the future as the Vikings WR3 or WR4.

3. Greg Joseph | K

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Joseph was perfect at the Atlanta Falcons in Week 9, but before that, he was far from it.

The South African has missed four field goals and two extra points so far in 2023, which is some type of miss every game and a half. In 2022, Joseph was absolutely deadly — in a good way — in crunchtime, probably why he received an extension from Minnesota.

Now, he must put those six unsuccessful attempts in the rearview and remain close to perfect the rest of the way. The margin for error has lessened, and the Vikings will likely continue playing close games from here on out, considering they’re down to a backup quarterback.

2. Byron Murphy | CB

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Out of 114 qualifying cornerbacks in the NFL, Pro Football Focus believes Murphy is 95th-best through nine weeks.

That isn’t very good.

The veteran defender has plenty of time to right the ship and began to do just that last Sunday at the Atlanta Falcons, grabbing a game-changing pick off the fingers of Taylor Heinicke. Thankfully for the Vikings sake, Mekhi Blackmon and Akayleb Evans have performed quite well in 2023, but an efficient Murphy for the next two months will help significantly.

1. Alexander Mattison | RB

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Minnesota desperately needs a jolt to its rushing attack. It ranks 29th in rushing yards at the moment, and RB2 Cam Akers was just set on the shelf for the remainder of 2023 with an Achilles tear. He isn’t coming back.

Mattison is the team’s RB1, and Ty Chandler will slide into the RB2 role henceforth.

Between Mattison and Chandler — Mattison especially because of his RB1 title — someone must generate more positive rushes. Minnesota’s ground game has been rather pitiful and was only sparked last weekend by quarterback Josh Dobbs’ mobility.

Mattison needs a monster second half of 2023 if he wants to stay an RB1 in Minnesota or elsewhere. Plain and simple.

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.