Just like old times, right everyone? This loss to the Broncos falls in line with most of the other Vikings’ losses on the season; the turnovers doomed them. The defense did all they could, keeping the Broncos out of the endzone after all three Vikings’ turnovers, but ultimately, the Vikings couldn’t get out of their own way, and squandered their own scoring opportunities by turning the ball over, resulting in a loss. It wouldn’t be so bad if this was an isolated incident, but all five losses can be attributed to bad turnovers. By my calculation, in the five losses, the Vikings have lost the turnover battle 13-2. That’s right, the Vikings have given the football away 13 times in five losses. Considering the way they’ve played in their victories, it’s not unreasonable to say the Vikings could be considered one of the top three teams in the NFC right now, and in the running for the top playoff seed if they hadn’t turned the ball over so much and won three or four of the games they’ve lost. But, naturally, the Vikings will Viking, and here we sit, still in the playoffs, but humbled as the win streak ends at five. Here’s an SMR.
Blue Chip Stocks
Josh Oliver - Not only can this guy block, he can catch touchdowns, too! Oliver was the recipient of Dobbs’ most recent magical touchdown pass, and he reeled in an additional three passes for a total of 47 yards, trailing only TJ Hockenson. Oliver claimed a team-best PFF grade of 90.0. Josh has proven to be a worthwhile free agent signing, probably the best pickup off the offseason for the Vikings.
Danielle Hunter - Hunter was the best player on the field on Sunday night. He racked up a sack, a QB hit, and two tackles for a loss. Hopefully the Vikings can bring him back this offseason, but either way, he should get a sizeable contract in free agency.
Brian Flores - Flores should be a head coach next season. While the offense was stumbling over itself all night, Brian Flores had his defense doing everything they could to keep the Broncos out of the end zone. The Broncos were held to a field goal every time they forced a turnover. They were held to only 47 rushing yards. The way Flores had turned this defense around from last year is one of the most important developments of this Vikings’ season.
DJ Wonnum - Wonnum again did a great job playing second fiddle to Danielle Hunter, grabbing another crucial sack. He even graded higher in PFF than Hunter did, coming in at 76.6 to Hunter’s 66.7.
Josh Dobbs - Dobbs did his part in facilitating the offense, but ball security has been an issue. As if fumbling on the Hockenson pitch play wasn’t bad enough, Dobbs also dropped two snaps that could have easily turned into turnovers too. If he can clean that up, Dobbs is a viable starter that can lead this team to the playoffs. We’ve seen his greatness in making unscripted plays, now we just need him to take care of the ball.
Ty Chandler - Chandler’s big play came by the way of a 31 yard rush on a fake punt, but he ran the ball well on his other 9 carries. I think I speak for the majority of Vikings fans when I say I’d like to see him get more carries than Mattison on a regular basis; Chandler’s more of a big play threat than Mattison. Probably the main reason we see Alex more is that Ty struggles in pass protection, and we saw that come out when he got beat on a blitz pickup, resulting in a Dobbs interception.
Vikings’ Two Minute Drill - The Vikings trail by one. There’s a minute left, they have all three time outs. They just need to pick up 35-40 yards for a field goal try. Instead, we witnessed one of the more pathetic attempts at a two minute drill you’ll ever see. Throughout the game, there were a few other questionable coaching decisions that compiled to even put the Vikings in a position to have to run a two minute drill. This wasn’t KOC’s best-called game.
Alexander Mattison - Mattison finally turned in an effective rushing performance, running for 81 yards on 18 carries, with a couple of chunk plays mixed in too. But, of course, he committed a fumble inside of Broncos’ territory that really changed the momentum of this game.
Joejuan Williams - Our old friend from training camp was signed back to the practice squad recently, and was called up to the active roster due to Akayleb Evans having to sit this one out. Williams played well on Sunday, turning in a 75.8 PFF grade. His most notable play was a pass breakup in the endzone that forced a field goal from the Broncos.
Buy / Sell
Buy: This could have easily been a win. The Vikings just couldn’t get out of their own way on offense, coughing the ball up three times. What could have been a statement primetime victory turned into a narrow loss to a Broncos team that I think is substantially worse than the Vikings are.
Sell: This loss is significant. Okay, yeah, losing sucks. But, they lost on the road to an AFC opponent, they’re still two games up on the rest of the NFC and sit in the final playoff spot. They still play the Lions twice, which means there’s still a decent shot at the division title if the Lions slip up. With an 81% chance to make the playoffs, the Vikings are doing just fine, even after losing.
Buy: Justin Jefferson will take Josh Dobbs to the next level. Having Justin Jefferson to throw to would bump any quarterback up a level. Dobbs has been successful with the Vikings’ current weapons, and adding the best receiver in the game to the mix I think will make this offense a legitimate threat again.
Sell: Justin Jefferson should come back for the Bears game. That being said, if JJ isn’t 100% by the Bears game, there is no reason he should play. The Vikings are 5-1 without Jefferson. They’ve already beaten the Bears without him. If he’s not 100% ready, he shouldn’t play, which would give him two more weeks before coming back after the bye to face the Raiders, and join for the final playoff push.
Thanks for reading! Leave your analysis in the comments.