Once upon a time, the Minnesota Vikings were pegged by NFL pundits for 8 to 10 wins in the 2022 NFL season. Fast forward to early November, and the franchise owns a 7-1 record, eying a home playoff game in January — and maybe even a first-round bye.
And to achieve a first-round siesta, the Vikings must finish one game ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles, who currently have an 8-0 record, the NFC’s No. 1 seed, and a tiebreaker over the Vikings.
What does that mean? Well, the Vikings must keep winning while hoping the Eagles drop a game or two — or three.
Insert the Green Bay Packers.
The Eagles should have cakewalks in the next two weeks versus the Washington Commanders and at the Indianapolis Colts. But then the Packers will summon the Eagles to Wisconsin the weekend after Thanksgiving. Philadelphia may encounter a Green Bay team like the contemporary, one that’s lost five straight games. Or the Eagles might find a Packers squad hellbent on or amidst revitalization. Who knows? Anything is possible with Aaron Rodgers and friends.
Meanwhile, the Vikings continue their ostentatious win streak, totaling five consecutive triumphs after getting thrashed by the aforementioned Eagles in Week 2. If Kevin O’Connell’s club finds a way to beat the Buffalo Bills this weekend — Josh Allen may or may not play — and win one or both of the Cowboys and Patriots matchups thereafter, then it’s a total arms race with Philadelphia to the No. 1 seed.
It’s unlikely that the Eagles will lose to the Commanders or Colts, but the Packers, Titans, Giants (twice), Cowboys, and Saints still lurk on Philadelphia’s docket. Accordingly, assuming the Vikings don’t squander the next three games, Vikings fans would morph into Packers enthusiasts for a night when Green Bay hosts Philadelphia.
This first-of-its-kind [at least in a long while] “I won’t cheer for the Packers” feeling is rational. The Vikings have such a chokehold on the NFC North that it doesn’t really matter if Green Bay gains a game or two. This doesn’t often happen, not when Green Bay boasts Hall-of-Fame quarterback play for three straight decades. By trade, Vikings loyalists never cheer for the Packers, but it might just make sense on November 27th.
Otherwise, the trade-off for those too standoffish to cheer for Green Bay would be an endorsement of the Eagles to have homefield advantage throughout the playoffs — and the Vikings to fall a game or two short. Which is more evil?
So, could you cheer for Matt LaFleur’s team in that scenario? Food for thought.
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).