All Things Vikings Point to One Topic

Drops One Hint
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Who will be healthy, and will there be enough manpower to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals?

Injuries — and that two-part question will dominate all things Minnesota Vikings in the next five days as the 7-6 purple team treks to Paycor Stadium on Saturday for a date with the 7-6 Bengals.

All Things Vikings Point to One Topic

Primarily, Justin Jefferson’s status will be at the forefront. The reigning Offensive Player of the Year returned from a hamstring injury after missing seven games. He was back for about 45 minutes. Jefferson hauled in an off-target pass from quarterback Joshua Dobbs, got smacked by Las Vegas Raiders safety and former Viking Marcus Epps, left the game because of the hit — and went to the hospital.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports.

After the game, a 3-0 Vikings win, the word from Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell was fairly upbeat. O’Connell said about Jefferson’s injury, “It looks like we avoided any significant thing there.”

When Jefferson was eligible to return from the hamstring ailment in November, the Vikings slow-rolled his comeback, erring on the side of caution. The coaching staff repeatedly said it wanted to “ramp Jefferson up” before his return, and the process spanned about a month.

Now, Vikings fans will monitor Jefferson’s injury status all week, a familiar circumstance.

A Vikings Stalwart
Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports

After Jefferson, well, right tackle Brian O’Neill was injured at the Raiders. His status is totally up in the air. Running back Alexander Mattison left the game in the second half with an ankle problem, leaving his best performance of the season behind. He chipped off 66 rushing yards on 10 carries before the setback.

Left guard Ed Ingram missed Sunday’s game in Las Vegas with a hip malady. He’ll be tracked all week, too.

Around the league, it’s all about attrition, and because Minnesota inhabits the NFC’s No. 6 playoff seed, it is directly inside the survival fest. Jefferson is obviously the keynote topic, but ailments for O’Neill, Mattison, and Ingram will loom large until the weekend.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

If O’Neill cannot play, veteran tackle David Quessenberry will get the nod. He filled in admirably for Christian Darrisaw earlier in the season. At running back, second-year tailback Ty Chandler would receive the bulk of carries, which Vikings fans have called for in the last month, regardless of Mattison’s new injury. Without Ingram, Blake Brandel played right guard, producing a commendable 72.2 pass-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus.

If you’re keeping score at home, these are the Vikings’ most significant players beset by injury entering Week 15:

  • QB Kirk Cousins
  • WR Justin Jefferson
  • RT Brian O’Neill
  • RG Ed Ingram
  • OLB Marcus Davenport
  • LB Jordan Hicks
  • DT Dean Lowry
  • RB Alexander Mattison
  • OL Oli Udoh

Of course, the Bengals are without Joe Burrow, who was lost for the season last month. So, Saturday’s game will involve undermanned rosters.

Vikings Point to One
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jake Browning (6) calls a play during the third quarter of a regular season NFL football matchup Monday, Dec. 4, 2023 at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla. The Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 34-31 in overtime. © Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Cincinnati is an early four-point favorite.

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