Many Minnesota fans are looking for a strong breakout game from Kevin O’Connell’s squad. Dallas marched into US Bank Stadium and came away with a 40-3 victory. It was a humiliating defeat that planted the seeds of doubt in our collective purple minds. A loss to the Vikings on Thanksgiving will only reinforce the idea that the team is undeserving of its stellar record.
In recent games, Minnesota has shown some weaknesses. The offensive line struggled to slow down talented defensive fronts. A besieged secondary struggled to fully intercept opponent passes. The run defense was lacking at times and the commitment to running the football was lacking at times.
If we narrow everything down to the ultimate game, we can see even more cause for concern, confusion, and disaster. Here’s a look at some of the numbers for the Cowboys:
- 40 points
- 12/17 in third place
- 458 total meters
- 307 passing yards
- 7 sacks
- 37:24 time of possession
In other words, things got ugly. Doesn’t the Vikings loss on Thanksgiving night reinforce that Minnesota is in over its head?
By no means.
In fact, I’m among those who believe that some midseason fighting could be productive. He wrote a piece for Cole Smith earlier in the week PurplePTSD Details that he thinks the timing of the Cowboys loss “came at the right time.” He sees an opportunity after the upcoming game:
Fortunately, the Vikings will get a mini-bye week after their Thanksgiving Day battle with the Patriots. This will allow the team to stay healthy and get some of its key contributors back. Their absence cost the Vikings against the Cowboys and almost defied the Bills. If they can get healthy after the bye week, they’ll still have a healthy roster heading into December.
Indeed, the ability to visit mini-bye is a good thing. Ideally, players can get away for a few days, giving time to family and friends. Some of the team’s injured players – Christian Darrisaw, chief among them – can hopefully return to 100%.
In addition, the coaching staff should take advantage of additional rest days. Whether it’s 9-2 or 8-3, the Vikings will be in the driver’s seat for the NFC North. This is the number 1 goal of the season. Winning the division secures at least one home playoff game, a notable advantage after a grueling regular season.
After this game, the Vikings’ schedule gets easier. The remaining opponents are: Jets, Lions, Colts, Giants, Packers and Bears. This 6-team roster doesn’t hold a ton of fear. Sure, wins aren’t guaranteed, but the fact is that a 3-game sweep with the Bills, Cowboys, and Patriots looks a lot scarier than the Jets, Lions, and Colts. Ditto for the last three games.
After all that has been said, we return to the main topic of the article. A Vikings loss on Thanksgiving is not the end of the world. The team must commit to finding ways to win and step up their preparation with added urgency. Obviously, as a team that stands at 9-2, it would be better if they could find success in the future, but an 8-3 record is nothing to be ashamed of.
The road remains open to secure the first division title since 2017. Missing tonight’s game won’t change that reality, so let’s not get too ahead of ourselves if Minnesota stumbles.
Editor’s note: Info Pro Football Reference and NFL.com helped with this piece.