Vikings

Do the Vikings Have A Final Act?

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

If the Minnesota Vikings’ season was a musical, it could be in any number of genres.

In some ways, the season has become a tragedy, marred by a 1-4 start and injuries to Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson. In others, it’s a redemption story about a team that climbed out of that hole and relied on Joshua Dobbs, a journeyman quarterback.

With the Vikings entering the bye week, the tone of the final stretch of the season remains a mystery. There have been plenty of ups and downs along the way. But when the Vikings return to action in Las Vegas, they’ll need one final act that will define their season. Can you name that tune?

The first act was one of hope and a little desperation as the Vikings looked to build off a 13-win season. They recast several characters, like Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook, and Eric Kendricks, with new faces.

Some players have risen to leading roles, but others have invoked minor-chord doom in the opening act. Despite a successful reunion with an old friend in Carolina, the season had a somber tone as Jefferson and Cousins eventually limped toward the sidelines. The Vikings plummeted in the standings just before the season became an operatic reboot of The Bad News Bears.

Like dudes flying through the sky during a Thanksgiving halftime show, Dobbs arrived in Minnesota with the soundtrack of Creed blasting in the background. His past was mysterious. He was a quarterback on his fourth team in the past two years and had already been traded twice this season.

Dobbs got an opportunity when Jaren Hall suffered a concussion against the Atlanta Falcons. Without knowing the playbook, Dobbs led the Vikings to a win on the road and completed the tail end of a five-game winning streak.

Suddenly, there was optimism. Some thought Dobbs could be the starting quarterback in 2024. Others were shaving their eyebrows. Meanwhile, some skeptics searched for flaws in the NFL’s mystery man.

Unfortunately, those flaws manifested in the last two games. Sean Payton brought his physical defensive style to the Vikings, resulting in the worst game of Dobbs’ tenure in Minnesota. Dobbs had a chance to redeem himself in a get-right game against the Chicago Bears, but the primetime lights were too bright in another soul-crushing loss. The musical’s second act would end with a dejected locker room and an exasperated Kevin O’Connell pondering what to do after the bye.

The final act brings the promise of the bright light of Jefferson’s gleaming grill and several layers of intrigue. The Vikings will enter the final five games in a fight for a Wild Card spot in the NFC playoffs. Minnesota jumped to the sixth seed in the NFC after the Seattle Seahawks lost to the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night. Still, some antagonists could stand in the way of their happy ending.

Led by their new hero, Jordan Love, the Green Bay Packers have had their own redemption story and could enter the logjam with a win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night. The Los Angeles Rams could get involved with a win over the Cleveland Browns. Then there are the New Orleans Saints, who previously lost to the Vikings but could force their way into the postseason as NFC South champions or via the Wild Card race with a win over the Detroit Lions.

We must also consider who the Vikings will see over the season’s final stretch. The Las Vegas Raiders are coming in with good vibes after firing Josh McDaniels, while the Cincinnati Bengals are grinding out the end of their tragedy following Joe Burrow’s injury.

The first two games could be a prelude for the climax, featuring three games against divisional opponents. The Lions could come in complete with a Metallica soundtrack and Dan Campbell slamming a pair of ventis while standing atop a monster truck like a Broadway production of Mad Max: Fury Road. Once considered an afterthought, the Packers are also poised to sing their own rendition of “And I Am Telling You I Am Not Going.”

Even if the Vikings make the playoffs, there could be a rematch with Kyle Shanahan in the greatest love story that Taylor Swift hasn’t written yet. Or there could be a trip to Philadelphia, which could be another bloodbath in the dripping vein of Sweeney Todd.

Minnesota’s post-bye scenario presents an opportunity for multiple storylines. Could Jefferson’s return save the day? Could Dobbs’s story give way to a redemption arc for Hall or Nick Mullens? Maybe Alexander Mattison will save the backfield with a final star turn. Perhaps Cousins will descend from the heavens and make a miraculous return with Aaron Rodgers‘s help.

Okay, probably not those last two. But the bye allows the Vikings to reset and prepare for one final act.

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