After a win against the New York Jets today, the Minnesota Vikings are now 10-2 on the season. Their record leads the NFC North and is the second best in the conference, behind the 11-1 Philadelphia Eagles, but there is significant doubt on how far they can go this year. This team has won nine games by one score and has played down to inferior competition a lot.
However, a significant injury within the NFC has opened the door for the team to potentially make a deep playoff run this season.
The San Francisco 49ers, who are considered by many to have the best all around roster in the conference, have lost their starting QB, Jimmy Garoppolo, for the year to a broken foot. This is a double-edged sword for the men in purple, as it significantly reduces any chance the 49ers have of making a deep playoff run this season, while also making the path to a Super Bowl LVII appearance for the team a little bit easier.
Since Garoppolo became a 49er in 2017, the team has a regular season record of 39-16, as well as a 4-2 playoff record, in games that he has started, which equals out to a 70% winning percentage. When he doesn’t play, the team is 6-22 for a win percentage of 21.4%. This injury will deal a significant blow to any chances that the 49ers have this season of making a deep run in the playoffs, as evidenced by the stats presented. It’s been made very clear through the years that no matter how average a quarterback like Jimmy G may be, his presence single handedly changes the fortunes of the 49ers.
On the other hand, it makes the Vikings’ chances of making a run to the Super Bowl this season a lot easier. Outside of the Eagles, a team many Vikings fans would admit could possibly stand in their way of a Super Bowl appearance, the NFC feels very wide open. The Cowboys may have handily beaten the Vikings earlier in the year, but many don’t trust Dak Prescott nor Mike McCarthy in big situations. Nobody is expecting a Geno Smith-led Seattle Seahawks team to make a deep playoff run, and the same can be said for overall flawed New York Giants and Washington Commanders rosters led by Daniel Jones and Taylor Heinicke. The Packers, Rams, and Buccaneers have all been big disappointments, but the Buccaneers, despite being deeply flawed in many key spots and injured all over the offensive line this year, always have a shot with Tom Brady leading the way.
With the Garoppolo injury, who else in the conference is going to give the Vikings or Eagles a true run for the money? Each of the other true contenders within the NFC have a hole or two that could prevent them from reaching the conference championship, as mentioned above. As of right now, the NFC Championship Game seems to have Eagles vs. Vikings written all over it.
While the Garoppolo injury is sad for the 49ers, and for the conference, it opens up the door for the Vikings to go deep into the playoffs. There is an argument to be made that they can beat any team, except maybe Philadelphia, on any given day. However, for those of us that have watched the Eagles closely, you can see that there is now a clear blueprint to give them a run for their money. Just look at their recent games against the Commanders, Colts, and Packers. If those teams can give the Eagles fits, there is no reason why the Vikings a second time around can’t do the same.
From a writer’s perspective, I would love to see my Vikings come home and at least appear in a Super Bowl. Why do I say “come home?” Well, I am an Arizona native and resident, and it would be amazing to see my team come to my city and give us all just one before we die. And as a writer and fan I say this: if the Chicago Cubs (my favorite baseball team) can win a World Series, then the Minnesota Vikings can absolutely win a Super Bowl. Never say never in the NFL.