Welp, the Vikings have a new magic number.

Welp, the Vikings have a new magic number.
November 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Linebacker Patrick Jones of the Minnesota Vikings. Mandatory credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

In addition to the glorious advantage of beating Bill Belichick for the first time in 22 years, the Minnesota Vikings have a new claim to fame – a revised “magic number.”

The Vikings toppled the New England Patriots on Thanksgiving night, 33-26, thanks to heroics from Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson, Kene Nwangwu and others. Meanwhile, NFC North’s second-seeded resident, the Detroit Lions, lost to the Buffalo Bills 28-25 earlier in the day.

And because those two items happened on Thursday, Minnesota’s magic number has shrunk to two.

November 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jalen Nailor. Mandatory credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

What does that mean? Easy. The Vikings only need to win two games, ask the Detroit Lions to lose two games, or some combination of those. For example, if the Vikings beat the New York Jets next weekend, while the Lions lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Vikings will close out the NFC North on December 4—a stunning scenario since Minnesota was expected to win eight or nine games. sportsbooks when the season started.

The Vikings haven’t won the NFC North since 2017, thanks to a starting Chicago Bears campaign in 2018 and long-term dominance of the Green Bay Packers from 2019 to 2021. But the tide is turning. Minnesota is all but certain of winning the division, barring a collapse so devious that even cynical Vikings fans wouldn’t believe it.

Essentially for the Vikings not to win the NFC North they would need to finish 0-6 with the Lions pulling in six wins to close out 2022.

Not going to happen.

November 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell. Mandatory credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

In addition, the shrinkage of the magic number comes because the Vikings still haven’t clicked on all cylinders. During some games, the offense falls asleep in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. In other cases, the defense does not generate a pass rush. Twice the Vikings played imbecile, once against the Eagles and the other against the Cowboys. Indeed, fans are in the process of determining if “this is who the Vikings are” or if they are screaming on the fly to create a formidable postseason group. We will see.

One thing is certain, the path to at least one home game is only weeks away, if not achievable next weekend. The Vikings have hosted just one playoff game at U.S. Bank Stadium — and you may remember that Diggsian experience five years ago.

Finally, as the magic number counts down to mouth-wateringly low numbers, Minnesota can now turn its attention to extended home field advantage, maybe catching the Eagles for the No. 1 seed or simply putting a stranglehold on the second spot. Should the Vikings maintain their current two-seed status, the odds of hosting two home postseason showdowns skyrocket – as long as the franchise doesn’t wet the bed in the Wildcard round.

But get out your pencils and calendars. All the Vikings need are two wins or two lion losses.


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Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube channel, VikingNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Salt Herb. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Guilty pleasures mentioned: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos’ and The Doors (the band).

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