Vikings Will Have Skeleton Crew This Weekend

Vikings Set a Mind
David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports.

If you want the Minnesota Vikings to lose on Sunday, the path to a higher draft pick, you are in luck.

Vikings Will Have Skeleton Crew This Weekend

Most fans would prefer a purple win no matter what on any given Sunday, but this weekend is a little different. If the Vikings knock off the Detroit Lions in Week 18 alongside a loss by the Green Bay Packers to the Chicago Bears, an Arizona Cardinals win over the Seattle Seahawks, and either a Tampa Bay Buccaneers or New Orleans Saints loss, Minnesota would go to the postseason. But that’s an obvious longshot.

Otherwise, with a loss at Detroit, a juicier draft pick is on the way.

Have Skeleton Crew
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So, when the Vikings injury report was updated Thursday, a litany of DNPs (did not practice) was largely met with shrugged shoulders from fans. Minnesota is already without the services of Kirk Cousins and T.J. Hockenson, and “you can’t hurt us much more” was the mindset of many Vikings loyalists.

These players did not practice Thursday, a signal that Sunday could be in jeopardy:

  • Mekhi Blackmon (CB), Shoulder
  • Christian Darrisaw (LT), Illness
  • Byron Murphy (CB), Knee
  • Jalen Nailor (WR), Concussion
  • Brian O’Neill (RT), Ankle
  • Jaquelin Roy (DT), Ankle

Ed Ingram (RG), Theo Jackson (S), Nick Muse (TE), and Harrison Smith (S) were limited.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

And the Vikings will get no reprieve from the Lions, either. Even though Detroit is totally locked into the NFC’s No. 3 playoff seed — nothing can change it — head coach Dan Campbell insists his starters will play on Sunday. Never mind injury fears, the Lions are full steam ahead.

The two clubs met a couple of weeks ago, and Detroit outlasted Minnesota at U.S. Bank Stadium, securing the Lions’ first-ever NFC North title and first division crown in three decades. Now, with the postseason about 10 days away, the Lions will play the Vikings and then prepare for the Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, or Vikings in the Wildcard Round.

could thwart
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

Because of Thursday’s DNPs, the Vikings could really be heading into Week 18 without these impactful players:

  • Kirk Cousins
  • T.J. Hockenson
  • Cam Akers
  • Christian Darrisaw
  • Brian O’Neill
  • Byron Murphy
  • Mekhi Blackmon
  • Marcus Davenport
  • Dean Lowry
  • D.J. Wonnum
  • Oli Udoh
  • James Lynch

You cannot make it up; a skeleton crew indeed.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Amid all the injuries, the Vikings are 3.5-points underdogs at Detroit. Minnesota was last swept in a single season by the Lions in 2016.

If the Vikings lose — as most assume — they’d pick somewhere between 9th and 12th in the 2024 NFL Draft.


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 OverTheCap.com.

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