Next up for the Minnesota Vikings is a non-conference matchup against red-hot Jake Browning and the Cincinnati Bengals.
Following the recent announcement that Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow would be out for the season, many marked their upcoming games against Cincinnati as wins on their calendar. However, former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Jake Browning has taken the reigns under center and has kept the Bengals afloat in the AFC playoff race.
For the Vikings to have a shot at winning the NFC North by season's end, they likely need to win out. Minnesota has received some help along the way as the Detroit Lions have dropped two of their last three games, which has given the Vikings the ability to control their own destiny for the remainder of the 2023 campaign.
The Lions will face off with the surging Denver Broncos on Saturday night, which makes the matchup between the Vikings and Bengals earlier in the day on Saturday huge for Kevin O’Connell and his team.
Let’s look at how Minnesota can leave Cincinnati this weekend with an 8-6 record.
Reason 1: Nick Mullens will perform better than Josh Dobbs
During the short career of Josh Dobbs in Minnesota, he made an impressive debut when he replaced Jaron Hall in Atlanta in Week 9 and helped lead the Vikings to wins in both Week 9 against the Atlanta Falcons and Week 10 against the New Orleans Saints.
However, as Dobbs delved deeper into Minnesota's offense, he seemed to struggle with its intricacies.
On the other hand, Nick Mullens, who has been with the Vikings since last season, has a good understanding of Kevin O'Connell's preferred style of play, which is crucial for the team's success.
Although Mullins is not as agile as Dobbs, he compensates for it with his intelligence and ability to distribute the ball.
Mullins provided a much-needed boost for Minnesota's offense when he entered the game in the third quarter last Sunday in Las Vegas. His accuracy and ball placement on throws were much better than what we saw from Dobbs in the past three weeks.
Mullins' ability to throw the ball downfield will be valuable against the Bengal's defense, which has struggled to stop big plays. In last week's game, Mullins could have made an impact much earlier if given the opportunity.
Expect Mullins to play a much cleaner brand of football than Dobbs going forward.