Keys to a Vikings’ Victory Sound like a Broken Record

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The fact that the Minnesota Vikings are even in playoff consideration after losing quarterback Kirk Cousins at 4-4, starting four different quarterbacks in the season, and having Justin Jefferson available for only eight games is a pleasant surprise. In addition to those struggles, they have continued to shoot themselves in the foot, but that must change to stay in the playoff race.

Keys to a Vikings’ Victory Sound like a Broken Record

Sound like a Broken
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Kevin O’Connell and his players now face the division foes. The Green Bay Packers come to U.S. Bank Stadium, and the storied franchises will play a virtual playoff game as the winner stays in the postseason race while the loser can focus on the offseason. There are three things the Vikings must do to be in a position to win the matchup.

Win the Turnover Battle

It is the same thing every week. If the Vikings don’t turn the ball over, they win, and if they do, they lose. Through 15 games, the Vikes have won all six contests when they come out with a positive or tied turnover ratio, but they were 1-8 when they lost the battle.

found a new low
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Green Bay, meanwhile, is 4-1 when they win the TO battle and 1-5 when they lose. Football is complicated, but the plan to win games is easy, at least in this case.

The Vikings have preached about the importance of ball security all year, but they can’t figure it out. Earlier in the season, the fumbles were a problem; now, the interceptions are. O’Connell benched Joshua Dobbs for Nick Mullens after he continued to turn the ball over, and now Mullens will be replaced by rookie Jaren Hall.

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It is the final bullet the head coach has to fix the problem. Hall has thrown only 11 interceptions in his two years of starting at BYU, and a more careful approach, especially compared to Mullens and Dobbs, could be a big step for ball security.

The skill position players have improved, and the quarterback hopefully holds on to the ball, but through 15 games, the Vikes still rank 31st in turnovers.

Run the Ball & Feed JJ

Starting a rookie under center is always tricky unless they were an elite pro-ready prospect coming out. And Hall was a fifth-rounder and like all signal-callers, he needs help around him. Receivers dropping passes and a broken running game are unacceptable.

Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler (32) eyes the goal line on a touchdown run in the first quarter of a Week 15 NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Cincinnati Bengals, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati.

To win a game with a rookie QB, the Vikings can’t just run the ball 11 times for 17 yards like they did versus the Lions. They must take pressure off Hall, find a way to give the ball to Ty Chandler, and hope he finds the holes like he did in Cincinnati rather than his horrendous performance last week.

Another way to win the game is to throw the ball to Justin Jefferson. In his first action, Hall played without the All-Pro, but this time, he can rely on one of the most dynamic weapons in the NFL. When in doubt, he can fling it in Jefferson’s direction, and he will make the play. At least he reminded folks of that on Sunday when he went up to grab the ball in double coverage on 3rd & 28.

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When Jefferson posts superhuman numbers, the Vikings have a good chance to win the game. He is the guy that makes the offense go and should be targeted multiple times on every drive.

The Packers have one of the worst defenses in the NFL, according to most numbers and metrics. The Vikings should find a way to move the ball.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt