You Will Learn One Very Important Thing about the Vikings on Sunday

Mismanaged the QB
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings have arrived at a 2023 crossroad, heading to Las Vegas on Sunday for a Week 14 date with the Raiders.

Minnesota is a slim three-point favorite but expected to win as a road competitor, nevertheless.

You Will Learn One Very Important Thing about the Vikings on Sunday

And while storylines are plentiful — Justin Jefferson is back from IR, Joshua Dobbs was named the starting quarterback after a week-long ponderance, and the run game needs repair — one prevailing, undetermined item will be learned at Allegiant Stadium: Sunday’s showdown in Las Vegas will probably tell fans if the 2023 Vikings are headed to the postseason.

You Will Learn One Very
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Of course, the purple team has five games remaining, and, in theory, if they coughed away a win against the Raiders, it could get hot and win the final four contests against the Cincinnati Bengals, Green Bay Packers, and Detroit Lions twice.

But let’s face it — if Minnesota can’t beat Aidan O’Connell’s Raiders, it likely won’t rip off four wins consecutively. It just doesn’t seem like a coherent hypothesis.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports.

Playoff math swings wildly depending on the Vikings’ result in Nevada. Minnesota must win to keep pace in the NFC’s evolving playoff picture. The New York Times’ playoff simulator plops the Vikings’ postseason probability at 51% before the Raiders matchup. If Minnesota wins, the math climbs to 64%. A loss would sink the odds to 29%.

ESPN published a similar factoid this week, “A Minnesota win means a 60% chance to make the playoffs, but this game could drop the Vikings to 32% if they lose.”

Happened to Vikings
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings’ Week 14 game boils down to a fairly simple litmus test — if they win, even if it’s ugly, they will likely participate in the postseason. If they lose, teams like the Packers, Los Angeles Rams, and Seattle Seahawks will probably snatch what Vikings fans consider “their” spot.

The Week 14 anxiety could’ve been avoided. Minnesota had a home game on Monday Night Football two weeks ago versus the Chicago Bears but lost by two points. Repeatedly in the 4th Quarter, Kevin O’Connell’s team had chances to shut the door on Chicago, including a Justin Fields fumble recovered by beloved defender Anthony Barr. The aforementioned Dobbs almost missed the killshot on a deep pass to Jordan Addison that confoundingly sailed out of bounds. And on the game’s final meaningful drive, Fields and friends marched down the field against Brian Flores’ aggressive defense.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Losing to the Bears fundamentally changed the postseason math, and now the Vikings have hard-hitting stakes this week.

A win over the Raiders would probably indicate a Wildcard playoff game around the bend in a month. A loss would signal no postseason and a 1st-Round draft pick around 17th or 18th.

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