One week after an emotional game against the Atlanta Falcons, it would not have been a shock for the Minnesota Vikings to come out flat-footed at home. We all saw it last year after the Buffalo game - but this year’s Vikings seem to be a different team.
The first half saw standout performances from the awesome Josh Dobbs, a TJ Hockenson that was fighting for every last inch through extreme rib pain, and a hopeful showing from Ty Chandler. Those performances powered the Vikings to a 27-19 victory over the New Orleans ‘Aints.
The Vikings naturally made fans sweat a bit in the second half - the sky is still blue - but two interceptions of the then Jameis Winston-led Saints ultimately sealed the deal.
I’m going to say it: Lost in all the personnel commotion, the Minnesota Vikings of the first 5 weeks have kicked the turnover bug that plagued so many players. They had a -9 turnover margin in those games. In the last 4, they have had a +3 turnover ratio. Turns out, it helps to not give the football away.
Beyond the turnovers, there are other reasons to believe in this team. Dobbs is only getting a better grasp of the playbook with each passing day and likely hasn’t come remotely close to his ceiling as a Vikings Quarterback. Players are starting to filter back into practice after a plague of injuries.
Justin Jefferson’s imminent return is chief among them. It is hard not to lick your lips at a quarterback that can scramble long enough to give the best passing weapon in the NFL more time to properly develop his routes. That scrambling is also paying dividends for what has grown into a very good offensive line.
Perhaps the biggest reason though for the dreaded 4-letter word - hope - is that this team is truly a TEAM. In spite of all the adversity, each player is genuinely having fun. You can sense it it in the post-game locker room talk, you see it in the sideline emotion of the injured Jefferson, and you can hear it in Kevin O’Connell’s voice. They’re not showing up just for work.
The ‘experts’ around the league are finally coming around to realizing it, too.
ESPN: #15 (up 1 from #16)
Biggest remaining game: Week 16 vs. Detroit
The Vikings have pulled themselves out of a 1-4 start with five consecutive wins, all with receiver Justin Jefferson on injured reserve, and are in good position for an NFC wild-card playoff spot. But they’re also only 1.5 games behind the Lions in the NFC North, and the teams will play twice in the final three weeks of the season. That makes the first matchup, to be played at U.S. Bank Stadium, pretty darn important. Much could happen between now and then, but if the teams are within a couple games at that point, it’ll be a must-win for the Vikings. On the other hand, the Lions could potentially knock the Vikings out of the playoff race altogether by sweeping the season series. — Kevin Seifert
If nothing else, this is clear: Joshua Dobbs can play in this league, and Kevin O’Connell can coach a little. This season has gone nothing like the 2022 campaign did, and yet, the Vikings are right back in contention. After Sunday’s triumph over New Orleans, they’ve won five straight — the longest active win streak in the league — despite starting three different quarterbacks in the last three games. That shouldn’t be a problem going forward, assuming Dobbs stays healthy, because he’s the man. I openly called for a change in Arizona because things went stale there after a certain point with Dobbs, but he’s rediscovered his mojo and is in a better situation, especially with Justin Jeffersonapproaching a return. Oh, and how about that Minnesota defense? It is allowing 297.9 yards per game since Week 4 and has 11 turnovers in the past five contests, including two huge ones against the Saints in the final three-plus minutes.
Yahoo Sports: Frank Schwab #18 (up 6 from #24)
Sunday’s win said a lot about Joshua Dobbs, his professionalism and competitiveness. It probably said as much, if not more, about head coach Kevin O’Connell. We see coaches with good quarterbacks come into games with their teams looking unprepared. O’Connell figured out a way to have Dobbs, who had just been benched by a horrible Cardinals team and traded, run a fully functional offense and win on the road. O’Connell has had some good moments, but Vikings fans should go forward after Sunday with more confidence than ever in their coach.
USA Today: Nate Davis #16 (no change)
Can the Josh Dobbs story actually get better? He threw for a career-best 268 yards Sunday and already leads Minnesota with two rushing TDs (in just two games). But this fairy tale could go next level amid the pending return of All-Pro WR Justin Jefferson.
Bleacher Report: #15 (Up 3 from #18)
To say it’s been a wild year for Joshua Dobbs is an understatement. When the preseason started, Dobbs was in Cleveland. Then he was traded to the Arizona Cardinals, made several starts, was benched and then traded again to the Minnesota Vikings.
Now, Dobbs has led the Vikings to two wins in less than two full weeks with the team, making quite an impression on Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell.
“I can’t emphasize enough what the circumstances were for him in our offense last week, but what I think was really special this week, is even coming off of that performance, [was] his work, how he prepared,” O’Connell told reporters. “He was essentially living at the facility and going through his normal process while also allowing us to show him how we do things, how we try to enhance his ability to play fast while also giving him really good plays that he can be responsible for.”
A Vikings team that has been blasted by injuries to players like quarterback Kirk Cousins, wide receiver Justin Jefferson and now running back Alexander Mattison has peeled off five straight wins to climb back into the NFC playoff race. Dobbs is a folk hero in Minnesota who will never have to pay for another Juicy Lucy again.
And come free agency next year, Dobbs is going to be in line for quite the sack of cash.
“The magic of Joshua Dobbs can’t be denied,” Sobleski said. “When Cousins suffered a torn Achilles tendon two weeks ago, the Vikings’ season appeared lost. Instead, the organization immediately responded at this year’s trade deadline by trading for Dobbs, who was on his way out in Arizona with Kyler Murray nearing a return. Dobbs has been wonderful in his short stint. The veteran journeyman has quickly picked up Kevin O’Connell’s offense and executed well, with a 67.2 completion percentage and five total touchdowns. The biggest difference with Dobbs behind center is that he can actually create outside of structure and provide the Vikings with something different.”
Sporting News, Vinnie Iyler: #12 (up 2 from #14)
The new man on the Vikings, Josh Dobbs, keeps producing the same results they were enjoying offensively with Kirk Cousins, thanks to more help from the running game for Kevin O’Connell and the defense overall under Brian Flores. Their 0-3 and 1-4 starts are distant memories as the Vikings look for a sixth straight win in Week 11 vs. Denver.
CBS Sports, Pete Prisco: #13 (down 1 from #12)
Josh Dobbs did it again in leading the Vikings to victory over the Saints. The defense has really come on in recent weeks for this 6-4 team.
The Ringer: #18 (up 2 from #20)
As adversity piles up, the constant in Minnesota is a strong culture and sound coaching.
The Vikings had every reason to set proverbial fire to their roster after starting the season 1-4 and placing Justin Jefferson on the injured reserve ahead of Week 6. The team could have easily acquired draft capital by trading Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter, and such moves would have only made it that much easier to tank in pursuit of one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2024 draft class. But fast-forward a month, and the Vikings are 5-0 without Jefferson and 2-0 without Cousins.
The deadline trade for quarterback Joshua Dobbs suddenly looks like one of the most savvy deals of the season. It cost almost nothing, but Dobbs has led the Vikings to two wins and has Minnesota back in the playoff hunt. The Vikings front office and coaching staff doubled down on winning this season despite ample reason not to, and players like rookie Jordan Addison, tight end T.J. Hockenson, Hunter, Dobbs, and others have stepped up in a big way, reinforcing that the non-tank was the right move. We often credit Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin for finding ways to win ugly; Kevin O’Connell and his staff deserve the same praise now. —Austin Gayle
Pro Football Network, Dalton Miller, #9 (up 6 from #15)
The Vikings keep crawling up the power rankings and now look like a clear Wild Card favorite in the NFC. Josh Dobbs hasn’t turned the ball over since taking over as Minnesota’s starter, and the Vikings have somehow won five straight games without Justin Jefferson (who could return from IR this week). With contests against the Broncos, Bears, and Raiders up next, Kevin O’Connell’s team could be 9-4 by mid-December.
Your Minnesota Vikings on average gained 2.3 spots over last week and now sit at an average ranking of 14.5.