Vikings Fans Encounter Sad Reality in NFC Playoffs

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Last season, the Vikings made their first trip to the postseason after a two-year absence. Many players had never participated in the tournament. In Kevin O’Connell’s second year, meanwhile, the Vikes are once again missing out. Consistency has been hard to come by as the Vikings haven’t made the playoffs in consecutive years since 2008 and 2009.

Vikings Fans Encounter Sad Reality in NFC Playoffs

Vikings Fans Encounter Sad Truth in NFC Playoffs
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The franchise isn’t participating in the playoffs for multiple reasons. For one, the emerging rivals Lions won 11 games and the division. Also, injuries badly derailed the season. Whenever a starting quarterback goes down, teams are usually screwed, and the Vikings were not good enough around their leader to prevent a collapse without him. And finally, and most importantly, they didn’t play well, with turnovers costing the team multiple victories.

A look at the NFC playoff picture, especially the divisional round is a hard pill to swallow for Vikings fans.

The four remaining starting quarterbacks are Jared Goff, Brock Purdy, Jordan Love, and Baker Mayfield. All four have had solid seasons. Purdy has quieted a lot of doubters in 2023, executing Kyle Shanahan’s offense at a high level. Goff guided the Lions to its first division title in three decades with a tremendous touchdown to interception ratio of 30-12. Love emerges as the third straight fantastic quarterback in Green Bay. His second half of the season has been scary for the rivals of the Pack and Mayfield has reinvented himself in Tampa Bay in a surprising mid-career surge.

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They all deserve to be in their position. However, Vikings fans wonder if Kirk Cousins would be the best of the group and if the narrative of “you need a better QB than Cousins to make a playoff run” might not be true after all. That narrative has been played for half a decade by people who aren’t fond of the veteran.

It is a moot point and what-ifs don’t count in the world of sports. Still, Cousins put up career numbers, in part because the running game was a disaster but also because he was comfortable in the system, a system he had been playing for the second consecutive season.

His 2,331 passing yards, 18 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions slowly earned him some recognition, especially after his team managed to beat the 49ers on national television and he had one of the best games of his career. That was followed by another outrageously good game versus the Packers in Lambeau Field.

It felt like this team could beat anyone in the league, and then his Achilles tendon snapped.

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Not only the quarterbacks but also the remaining teams cause some sobs in Minnesota. The Vikings won versus the 49ers and Packers in consecutive weeks. Despite committing three more turnovers than the Buccaneers in Week 1, O’Connell’s group lost by only three points. And they lost the two games against the Lions with Nick Mullens under center by a combined 16 points, despite Mullens throwing six interceptions. The one outlier is the beatdown against the Packers in Week 17, a truly unacceptable performance.

However, none of that matters. Although the organization had the right quarterback and perhaps was as good as other NFC teams, Cousins got hurt, the Vikings committed the turnovers and therefore didn’t win enough games to reach the postseason and now they watch the other teams fight for a trip to the Super Bowl.

Hope to Avoid Doomsday
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But it should be noted that the franchise is not as far away as it seems. The upcoming offseason is important for the Vikings to retool the roster and make some crucial decisions for the future of the franchise.

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