Vikings’ Week 15 Mystery Is Solved
Like last year heading into a matchup with the Indianapolis Colts, the Minnesota Vikings had a similar wait-and-see arrangement in 2023 with the Cincinnati Bengals.
NFL schedule makers assigned the Vikings a Week 15 mystery date, with the Cincinnati-Minnesota matchup to be played either Saturday, December 16th, or Sunday, December 17th.
.Vikings’ Week 15 Mystery Is Solved
Well, the mystery is over. ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted Thursday, “And the new Saturday, Dec. 16 NFL schedule: Minnesota Vikings at Cincinnati Bengals, 1:00 pm | Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts, 4:30 pm. | Denver Broncos at Detroit Lions, 8:15 pm.”
So, for travel and viewing arrangements, carve out the “noon window” (CST) by midwesterner’s standards for Saturday, December 16th. The Vikings will take on Jake Browning’s Bengals at Paycor Stadium on a Saturday, not a Sunday.
First, Minnesota has a bye week, resting Justin Jefferson for 10 more days, deciding on QB1, and then heading to Las Vegas for a date with the Raiders. And with a 6-6 record, plus a two-game losing streak, the Vikings have entered must-win territory at Las Vegas in a week and a half.
For the Bengals, two games await before hosting Minnesota (at Jacksonville, vs. Indianapolis). The club lost Joe Burrow to a season-ending injury a few weeks ago and is mathematically on life support for playoff contention. The rest of the 2023 season in Cincinnati is about respectability, and if the Bengals can’t win games, well, a sweet draft pick will be on the way to accompany an already good team in 2024.
In recent seasons, the NFL has implemented flexible scheduling, a measure to showcase the top matchups at the season’s midpoint and down the stretch. The Vikings’ and Bengals’ placement at noon on a Saturday seems to indicate the matchup isn’t too tantalizing for viewership, likely because Cincinnati is heading nowhere after Burrow’s injury.
The NFL also flexed the Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks into the Monday Night Football slot and ixnayed the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs from MNF. The Chiefs and Patriots will now square off on Sunday, December 17th, at noon CST. It’s the first-ever Monday Night Football flex.
The Vikings’ main storyline at the moment — which will bleed into the Bengals contest — is the quarterback. Journeyman passer Joshua Dobbs arrived in Minneapolis a month ago and took the team, league, and NFL fan community by storm. However, in the last two games, Dobbs plummeted back to earth and fired up a particularly poor game against the Chicago Bears in Week 12. Now, Minnesota has a quarterback controversy, as head coach Kevin O’Connell has not named a starter for Week 14 at the Raiders.
His decision will be a segue to the Bengals game on December 16th, and by that time, if the Vikings end up losing to Las Vegas, the Cincinnati-Minnesota meeting would become desperation for Minnesota.
The Vikings haven’t won in Cincinnati in 31 years.
Tickets for Bengals-Vikings start around $60 apiece, including fees + taxes.
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).