Saying the Minnesota Vikings 2020 season has been a bit of a roller coaster would be like saying the Mississippi River is a bit of a stream. An incredibly poor start, followed by an absurd playoff push, immediately dashed by a disappointing loss to the Red Rocket has left Vikings fans’ heads spinning.
Barring a massive overachievement, Minnesota’s season will likely finish without either a high pick or a playoff berth. A result that can only be described as very Viking-ish.
Early season woes
Early in the 2020 season, the Vikings looked flat out horrible. They couldn’t generate any sort of pass rush and their young cornerback group struggled in coverage. In some games the team looked disinterested, and it looked like playing football was the last thing they wanted to do. They started out 0-3 before finally winning a game.
After getting lambasted by the Atlanta Falcons at home, things hit an all-time low. The tank for Trevor Lawrence talk heated up and there were plenty people speculating about potential replacements for Mike Zimmer.
While the Vikings’ struggles were a surprise to see, the silver lining to being one of the worst teams in football would have been to get a high pick that could land this team a star quarterback. Whether that signal-caller was Lawrence, Justin Fields, Trey Lance or even Zach Wilson, the thought was the Vikings would finally get that young quarterback who could lead them to victories for the next decade, and he’d be coming to a team already loaded with offensive weapons. Those dreams were fun while they lasted, but a new Vikings’ team emerged after the bye.
Minnesota came out of their bye with three straight division games. While everyone would’ve loved to see an upset win against the Packers, and would have been happy with that as the only other victory for the remainder of the season, the Vikings did a bit better than that. They won in Green Bay, then went on to beat the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears.
After beating Chicago in Soldier Field on Monday Night Football, they were humming. Dalvin Cook was on a torrid pace and the defense was beginning to play better with some pressure up front and improved play from the young corners. The Vikings were suddenly back in the playoff picture with a soft portion of their schedule coming up.
The Vikings began that “soft” part of their schedule with a loss at home to the 2-7 Dallas Cowboys. They failed to match the Cowboys’ physicality in the first half of the game, and the defense couldn’t hold up in the second half. The Vikings dropped to 4-6 on the season, leaving their playoff hopes all but dead, with only an advanced mathematician’s chances of making the big dance.
Finishing the most Vikings’ way possible
At 4-6 and with a defense that can’t pressure the quarterback or stop the run, a run to the playoffs is unlikely. They aren’t going to win five more games, and even going 9-7 is unlikely to happen. The Vikings also aren’t going to finish 4-12 and end up with a top-5 pick.
They have to play the Jacksonville Jaguars in a few weeks and also face the Bears and Lions again. Those games alone will get them to seven wins on the season. They could steal one from the New Orleans Saints or Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the game against the Carolina Panthers this week is a toss-up. This adds up to the Vikings finishing without a high draft pick and no playoff berth, which is pretty much the worst-case scenario for the team.
Finishing with no playoffs and no shot at a franchise-defining quarterback is the most Vikings thing they could do. This team is never quite good enough to win it all, and never quite bad enough to finish with the top overall draft choice. While that sucks to admit, missing the playoffs and ending up with a mid-first round selection is probably the perfect way to end this strange 2020 NFL season.
With a mid-teens pick, they will have to address a secondary need. While they could still land a solid starter here, the fact that the season is going to be lost and the team isn’t going to have a high draft pick to show for it is extremely frustrating. They’ll end up taking a guard or some defensive player, and while that could definitely help the team in the future, but the player won’t be a franchise-changer like landing a top quarterback or getting a premier-pass rusher would have been.