The Minnesota Vikings picked up their fifth win of the season on Sunday in dramatic fashion. After ceding the go-ahead touchdown to the Atlanta Falcons with just over two minutes remaining, newly-acquired quarterback Josh Dobbs drove the Vikings 75 yards for the game-winning touchdown on the road.
Now at 5-4, the Vikings are just 1.5 games behind the Detroit Lions in the NFC North race. Just last week, many declared the Vikings’ 2023 season dead after Kirk Cousins tore his Achilles, but with a promising Vikings debut from Dobbs, a soft conference, and a favorable schedule, suddenly Minnesota’s season is very much alive.
So today’s Question of the Day is:
Are the Minnesota Vikings legitimate NFC North contenders?
My answer: I think they are, and let me give you three reasons.
1. Their soft schedule
We all know the Lions have a pretty easy schedule ahead, but so do the Vikings. Here are their next four games:
- vs. Saints (5-4)
- at Broncos (3-5)
- vs. Bears (2-7)
- at Raiders (4-5)
Those are four very winnable games, which would push them to 9-4 if they pull them all off. And, of course, they also have two remaining games against the Lions, and if they can win both of those, suddenly the NFC North is up for grabs.
Going into Week 9, the Vikings had the fifth-easiest schedule remaining in the NFL by DVOA, with the Lions at fourth-easiest.
2. Vikings defense is actually... good?
While giving up 28 points and 370 yards of offense to the Taylor Heinicke-led Falcons wasn’t exactly impressive on Sunday, Minnesota’s defense has been much better this year than last year. They absolutely shut down the 49ers a few weeks back, and they’ve only allowed 21.1 points per game. Going into Sunday, they ranked 10th in defensive DVOA. A strong defense will keep you in games, especially against poor competition.
3. They’ve got a great supporting cast for Josh Dobbs
Dobbs was the story of the week, having to come in to replace the injured Jaren Hall despite taking no team reps since he was traded to Minnesota. Dobbs deserves a lot of credit for making a ton of huge plays with his feet, including a 22-yard scramble on a fourth-and-7 during the Vikings’ game-winning drive.
But Dobbs is also in a really nice situation. The Vikings have a few weapons in T.J. Hockenson and Jordan Addison. Plus Justin Jefferson is now eligible to return from IR (though it looks like it may still be a few weeks until that happens). Also, the Vikings offensive line is sneaky good.
That’s all to say that this offense has enough weapons that a smart, athletic player like Dobbs could still find some success.
So I’m not counting out the Vikings quite yet, and the Lions better not either.
What do you think? Vote in the poll below, then scroll down to the comment section to share your thoughts.
Are the Vikings legitimate NFC North contenders?
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