While head coach Mike Zimmer now seems pretty impressed, and rightfully so, with Case Keenum and his recent performance, the fact that he might just be making a run for an MVP performance this season, with a quarterback ranking higher than that of Tom Brady, Keenum still hasn’t been named as the Minnesota Vikings starter for the rest of the season.
Case Keenum and the Minnesota Vikings Remaining Schedule
With Teddy Bridgewater active, and a fan favorite, such a declaration might be unpopular, but the lack of confirmation might just be a part of what is motivating Keenum’s performance. That could be a very strategic move by Zimmer, and it may be working. Keenum has performed better since Bridgewater’s activation November 8 than he did the rest of the season.
However, down the stretch how does he stack up against the Vikings remaining opponents? Is he the leader to take them all the way to the Super Bowl?
Sure, the Atlanta Falcons managed to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but their next opponent will be facing the red hot Keenum with a weakened defense, missing players like Desmond Trufant and Brian Poole. The pass rush was pretty much absent for the Buccaneers game, and probably will be against the Vikings as well.
Given time to throw and considering how mobile he has been, Keenum should be able to handle this defense well. Provided the Vikings defense holds up their end of the deal, and contain Matt Ryan and the Atlanta offense, both fired up after coming off of three wins in a row, this one should be another win for the Vikings.
Some say the Carolina Panthers, at 8-3, are overrated. The Vikings better be careful about that. Yes, Cam Newton is not playing his best football ever and is sixteenth in the league quarterback rankings. Still, the team has one thing going for them: their defense.
This team can stuff the run, get pressure on the quarterback, and even cause turnovers. Can Keenum hold his own in the pocket against them? If he keeps playing at the level he is now the answer is a profound yes.
Further, he should be able to pick apart their secondary if the offensive line gives him the time he needs. The Vikings took care of the Panthers easily last year, and the game should look much the same this year.
This home game might appear as a lock, as it looks like the Cincinnati Bengals will miss the playoffs again, and franchise quarterback Andy Dalton seems to be on the verge of losing his job along with other franchise shakeups. However, this could be a trap game for the Vikings, who might be focusing on the Week 16 contest with the Green Bay Packers and miss the Bengals weapons that can really hurt you, like A.J. Green and Joe Mixon.
The Bengals are a dangerous one for the Vikings, and they need to be careful.
Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers may be back for this game, and that could make it the toughest of the remaining schedule for the Vikings. Even if Brett Hundley is still at the helm, he proved against the Steelers that Keenum is not the only backup with some chops. Despite the last-minute loss via a long field goal, he looked pretty good, although the Steelers defense helped.
Still, the defense could be hungry to try to make a final run for the playoffs, and that could be a problem for Keenum. Still, he’s shown some confidence under pressure and should be able to handle the offensive leadership for the game. The victory might be up to the defense though.
The Chicago Bears game could mean a lot to the Vikings, depending on if they have dropped any of the previous games. If they have gone undefeated, this could be a play for the number one seed in the playoffs. If not, they could be playing for number two or three. Either way, they will play all of the starters, and they will win.
What does that mean for Keenum? This could be his game to prove he is the guy to lead the Vikings through the playoffs as far as they will go, even to the Super Bowl. This could also be his last opportunity to show his stuff if Zimmer decides Bridgewater would be a better choice in the post-season.
Either way, he will play well, and with something to prove.
The Vikings are headed for a great season no matter what happens next, Keenum is probably the guy down the stretch, at least until the bye they are likely to get right before the postseason. What will happen in the playoffs remains to be seen.