Why Vikings Fans Should Have Optimism after the Bye Week

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When the Minnesota Vikings took the field against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football, it was expected that they would leave it with a victory. Unfortunately, they played arguably their worst game of the season and dropped a winnable contest. There is still plenty of reason to believe in this team, however.

Why Vikings Fans Should Have Optimism after the Bye Week

After the Vikings soiled their pants on national television, it became more difficult to trust this team going forward. Realistically, not having Kirk Cousins under center has made the battle toward the postseason a much more significant grind for the past couple of weeks, but they have done their best to hold serve. If there was optimism before the Bears game, though, and there was, it shouldn’t all be gone now.

Should Have Optimism
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Minnesota still has a very manageable schedule the rest of the way. Las Vegas has looked better since making a coaching change and installing Aiden O’Connell as their quarterback, but it would be a stretch to call them a juggernaut. The home-crowd advantage isn’t all that substantial for the Raiders, and Vikings fans should be expected to flock to Vegas in droves.

Beyond that, the only real spot on the calendar circled as a presumed loss was a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. That was largely because they employed Joe Burrow as their quarterback. Unfortunately, that reality came to a screeching halt recently as the Bengals lost their highly-paid passer for the season.

Could Start for Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jake Browning (6) drops back to throw during a training camp practice at the Paycor Stadium practice field in downtown Cincinnati on Wednesday, July 26, 2023. © Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Cincinnati now has Jake Browning under center, which changes what they can do on offense. Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins got significant downgrades, and Joe Mixon now faces stacked boxes. It isn’t as though Browning has zero chance to win, especially playing at home and against the team that first employed him, but his inexperience puts the Bengals in a weekly uphill battle.

From there, it’s a divisional slate of controlling their destiny. When Green Bay knocked off the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving, they opened the door for Minnesota to catch them. Losing against the Bears did the Vikings no favors, but they still have two contests against the Motor City Kitties. The Vikings can, and need to be, two games above .500 when they host the Lions on Christmas Eve. Winning that game would set them up nicely the rest of the way.

Silly Narrative Laughable
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Cousins isn’t going to be bursting onto the playing field again this year, no matter what Aaron Rodgers is trying to do. Josh Dobbs showed why he has been a career backup last week, but he has also proven capable of getting the job done when utilized correctly. Kevin O’Connell now has a trio of mediocre options to play at the quarterback position, but each can be put in spots to create advantages against all four final opponents.

There is no way to blueprint a path with the Vikings looking like Super Bowl favorites at this point, but they are still on track to reach the postseason and have control over their future. This team has enough offensive talent to hide the shortcomings of their quarterback, and the defense has never looked better.

It is really okay to believe in this collection of talent.

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.