We just discussed in detail last night the Vikings schedule on the Climbing the Pocket Happy Hour and while doing so I came up with three critical games that can make or break the Vikings season.
Dave, Ryan, and I had them all over the place result wise but the consensus seems to be around 10 to 11 wins, maybe more, but those two numbers seemed to be the average. Now, we mentioned that there may be more wins and that’s where these three games come into play.
Three games can win a division, get a bye week in the playoffs, or even make you miss the playoffs entirely. Wins and losses may have increased for all teams but the Vikings are on the fringe of winning the division and more now, they are in an open division and that’s with Aaron Rodgers in the division as well.
Now, as for those three games, I keep teasing, let us dive into those games and why exactly they will make or break this season for the Vikings potentially. On a bright note, all of them are home games!
Week Four, Home Against the Cleveland Browns
The Vikings had a lucky draw of sorts to start the season with a pretty friendly schedule to start the season and heading into a week four matchup against the returning Kevin Stefanski and his Browns they may be undefeated.
The matchup of Mike Zimmer against Kevin Stefanski will be a chess matchup to end all chess matches, something worthy of The Queen’s Gambit, and whoever makes the first blow could take momentum all the way to the end. The Vikings have the advantage at receiver with a young cornerback group in play for the Browns, a couple of big plays, and this thing may blow wide open early.
Week Fourteen, Home Against the Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers have an absolutely brutal four-game stretch to end the season. Games against the Titans, Browns, Chiefs, and Ravens to end the year are enough to make any team cringe and have a letdown game before such a stretch, that is week fourteen.
The Steelers by week fourteen may be having a quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger who’s weak arm may be clinging for dear life and the running game may or may not be established with rookie Najee Harris. The Vikings have the defense to create chaos for Roethlisberger and Harris just enough so that they may get a win against a good team looking ahead.
Week Sixteen, Home Against the Los Angeles Rams
You can take the quarterback out of the NFC North but you can’t keep him away forever, that’s how the saying goes right?
In his final game against the division, Stafford could very well be leading an NFC West-leading Rams into Minnesota but can his new offense with an actual offensive mind in Sean McVay actually make waves? Zimmer has been able to keep the former Lion in check for the most part when they matched up but he with McVay and the weapons like Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and Cam Akers may be enough to cause fits.
If they can pull this off they have all the momentum in the world going into two division games to end the season against the Packers and Bears. This paired with that final two-game stretch can turn this from three important games to five in the blink of an eye.