It’s easy to look at the Minnesota Vikings less than a week after handing the Detroit Lions their first victory of the season and see a huge trash can. Losing to the Lions is a harder pill to swallow for a fanbase than losing to Nick Foles in the 2018 NFC Championship Game. However, that loss last week was so embarrassing that tonight’s game against the Steelers should be a must-win.
Regardless of the NFC standings, which in and of itself make this game feel like a must-win for the Vikings, Minnesota (and especially Mike Zimmer) needs to win tonight in order to maintain some small amount of self-respect. Could you imagine losing to Jared Goff, and then the very next week losing to Big Ben? No. That’s a fate worse than death for Zimmer. He shouldn’t wait to get fired if that happens. He should just quit.
The table is set for the Vikings to win this game too. The game is in Minnesota, where the Vikings are 3-2 on the year. Dalvin Cook is expected to play. Yes, Adam Thielen will miss the game with an ankle injury, but with Joe Haden out for the Steelers as well, it sort of evens things out. Thielen is clearly a bigger loss than Haden is, but at least Justin Jefferson won’t have to go toe to toe with the Steelers top corner without Thielen on the opposite side.
In conclusion, things are looking good for Minnesota. Not perfect, but good. That’s what makes losing this game all the more troubling if you’re a Vikings fan. Not only do the Vikings have to win this game, this is a game they should win. Not to mention, the Steelers are coming off a last-second, one-point victory over the Baltimore Ravens. As the saying goes, “the best time for a disappointing loss is right after an exhilarating win.” That saying isn’t necessarily true, seeing as how since 2016, teams coming off one-point victories the week prior actually have a winning record the following week, but it wouldn’t be a saying if there wasn’t at least some truth to it.
While the Steelers were celebrating their nail-biting victory over their division rivals, the Vikings were wallowing in their devastating loss and letting the pain of that humiliating defeat burn inside them. The Vikings aren’t the worst team in the league by any means. They’re just three weeks removed from taking down the Green Bay Packers. Sure, the Packers didn’t have Aaron Jones that week, but they still took beat one of the best teams in the NFL. The week before that they took down the Chargers. The week before that they took the Ravens to overtime. The week before that they hung tough with the Dallas Cowboys. Yes, something is up with the Vikings. They are not playing nearly as well as they were earlier in the season, but they are not one of the worst teams in the league, as their loss to the Lions might have many people thinking.
If Zimmer has any self-respect for himself or his team, he probably went back to the lab after the loss last week and cooked up a spicy gameplan for tonight’s matchup, because if he loses tonight, he won’t be able to bounce back the following week. He’ll be at home like the rest of us, scrounging around LinkedIn looking for a new team to hire him.