Are the Vikings & Bucs Proving to Be Contenders?

The biggest winner of Week 10 in the NFL has to be the Minnesota Vikings. Despite their 7-1 record going into their trip to Buffalo, the second-best mark in the league, did anyone really take the Vikes seriously as a Super Bowl contender?

I’m not just talking about skeptical media pundits, but many of their fans had doubts. My buddy, a native Minnesotan, messaged me following the win, “I was worried. But this game showed we are legit.” 

Why the doubt? The Vikings had one true test before taking on the Bills, a 24-7 loss at the Philadelphia Eagles. Of their seven wins, they had just one victory over a team that currently has a winning record, and the Miami Dolphins were without Tua Tagovailoa.

The Vikings overcame a 17-point deficit, and there were numerous times when it felt like the game was over. What were the in-game odds after Minnesota turned the ball over on downs, trailing by four with 50 seconds on the clock?

The star of the game was wide receiver Justin Jefferson who went for a career-high 193 yards and a touchdown on ten receptions, including the catch of the year. It was his 20th career 100-yard game, seventh with 150+ yards, both NFL records through a player’s first three seasons.

It wasn’t just their lack of an impressive resume in 2022 that had many ready to label the Vikings a pretender if they lost to the Bills by double digits. There’s also a long history of falling short in big spots, particularly by quarterback Kirk Cousins.

Cousins wasn’t perfect (1 TD-2 INTs) but did throw for 357 yards, and we can only assume he wore as many chains on the flight home. Sunday’s win doesn’t erase all of their sketchy big-game history, but it gives the Vikings a signature win (33-30 in OT) they can point to heading into the postseason.

Going from one of the least trusted quarterbacks in pressure spots to the most.

The 4-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers took on the first-place Seattle Seahawks Sunday morning to kick off the day and picked up their fifth win of the season to get back to .500 and take a one-game lead in the NFC South over the Atlanta Falcons, who already took an L on Thursday.

It was a big win for the Bucs, just their second over a team that currently has a winning record (they beat the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1). It was also the first time since the first two weeks of the season that Tampa won consecutive games.

Most importantly, it was Tom Brady’s top performance in over a month, maybe of the season.

Brady posted a season-best 85.9 QBR (54.3 on the season), season-highs with a 75.9 completion percentage (65.3%) and 8.9 yards per attempt (6.4 YPA), and it was just the second time his passer rating (111.0) hit triple digits in 2022.

His route running leaves much to be desired, but it was a step in the right direction for the seven-time Super Bowl Champ. Ironically, Brady’s streak of passes without an interception (399) was snapped. It was the second-longest in NFL history.

Already known as the Golden Boy and then the GOAT, Brady should add International Man of Mystery to his many AKAs.

With the win in Munich, the first regular season NFL game played in Germany, Brady improved to 4-0 in international games, and he’s the first quarterback to win in three countries outside of the United States (Mexico City, Mexico, and London, United Kingdom).

I’m not ready to say the Bucs are back, but I wouldn’t write them off as a pretender.