E Point Perfect

Vikings Could Wrap up the Thing Sunday in Time for Supper


Vikings Could Wrap up the Thing Sunday in Time for Supper
Sep 25, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings host the Mike White-led New York Jets in Week 13, with a chance to hit a 10-2 record for the first time since 2017.

And if Minnesota stifles Mike White and his upstart friends while the Detroit Lions lose in the same early afternoon timeslot, the Vikings will have wrapped up the NFC North by supper on Sunday.

The Vikings ‘magic number’ is two, meaning the franchise must win just two games, ask the Lions to lose two, or some combination thereof. Detroit plays at home versus Jacksonville on Sunday and is favored by a point to win. But the Jaguars just bumped off the mighty Baltimore Ravens in Week 12, proving they’re also qualified to topple the Lions.

Oct 30, 2022; London, United Kingdom, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports.

The Lions have encountered a weird path to a 4-7 record. They received a bunch of rah-rah hype after appearing on HBO‘s Hard Knocks in the offseason, started the season with a 1-6 record, won three straight over the Packers, Bears, and Giants, and then lost on Thanksgiving to the Bills. Detroit could be building something for the long-term — it has terrific offensive and defensive trenches — but it should probably own a better record than 4-7 through 12 weeks.

Jacksonville, on the other hand, is maturing with a new head coach in Doug Pederson, plus the gradual development of Trevor Lawrence. It has notched wins over the Colts, Chargers, Raiders, and Ravens. Adding the Lions to the list — especially after shocking the Ravens — isn’t unreasonable.

The Vikings Teensy Magic Number
Kevin O’Connell

Meanwhile, to lock up the NFC North for the first time since 2017, “all” the Vikings must do is beat the Jets at U.S. Bank Stadium. In an ordinary NFL season, the assignment would be simple, as “beat the Jets” hasn’t been a daunting task amid the last decade.

But these Jets are a bit different, sparked by the insertion of White into the lineup as QB1 and the NFL’s sixth-best defense per EPA/Play. If White plays like he did last weekend — the Jets thoroughly spanked the Bears, 31-10 — the Vikings will face a New York squad akin to New England. That is — a limited offensive group but a formidable defense.

Moreover, the Vikings haven’t played a complete game yet. Fans have salivated for 2.5 months, asking Minnesota to thrash an opponent. But O’Connell’s club seems to enjoy suspense thrillers, fledging through games in the 2nd and 3rd Quarters and then turning on the jets in the final period. That’s Vikings football, so far, in 2022.

If Minnesota can down the Jets and peek at the scoreboard for a little help from the Jaguars, the Vikings will win the division with five games left on the docket — a circumstance absolutely nobody on the planet foresaw this early in the season back in August.

The Vikings are favored by three points to hold up their end of the bargain over New York — the same pregame point spread as Vikings-Patriots on Thanksgiving.

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 Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).


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