The story of the Vikings last season was their ability to win close games, as Minnesota went a perfect 11-0 during the regular season in one-score outcomes.
While the trend of close competition has continued for Minnesota this season, the results haven't been as favorable – and there's a key focal point: turnover margin.
All but one game for the Vikings in 2023 — a 24-10 victory at Green Bay in Week 8 — has ended in a one-score finish, but Minnesota currently has a 5-6 record in such contests.
Turnovers have been a critical reasoning behind that mark. The Vikings have played five games this year where they either won or tied the turnover battle, going 5-0. In the other six games in which the team has finished with a negative turnover differential, Minnesota is 1-6.
After reeling off five consecutive wins, the Vikings have dropped back-to-back contests in the final minutes, most recently a 12-10 loss to Chicago on Monday Night Football.
The Bears turned the Vikings offense over four times on Monday, all on interceptions. Minnesota has 24 total turnovers offensively through 12 weeks — the most in the NFL — one more than it had as an offense entirely last season. The Vikings also lead the league in total fumbles (23) and fumbles lost (14).
As a result, Minnesota has a turnover differential of minus-8, which is tied for the second-worst in the NFL. Last season, the Vikings finished with a plus-2 turnover differential, which was tied for ninth.
On the other side of the ball, however, Minnesota has produced solid numbers in the turnover department. The Vikings have 16 total takeaways this season (nine interceptions and seven fumble recoveries), which is tied for seventh in the NFL. Minnesota also leads the league in forced fumbles at 18.
The Vikings will get a much-needed break as they head into their bye week but fell back slightly in this week's Power Rankings. Here's a look at where the Vikings rank heading into Week 13:
No. 16 (down 2 spots): Eric Edholm, NFL.com
For three-and-a-half quarters, Josh Dobbs almost undid all the goodwill he'd earned since arriving in Minnesota. It wasn't all his fault, but Dobbs made some horrendous decisions in key moments. The first pick never had a chance. The second went off Jordan Addison's hands but could have been thrown better. The third hit K.J. Osborn's hands — and it came on fourth down, so no harm, no foul. The fourth one, Dobbs needed to eat it. It was a screen, and the Bears had it read. These were the kinds of plays Dobbs started making more often in his more recent starts in Arizona. There was some magic early in the desert, but it petered out. Is that playing out all over again in Minneapolis? Despite Minnesota finally putting together a touchdown drive to take the lead in the fourth quarter, Chicago marched back down the field for the game-winning field goal. Now the Vikings strange season has careened into the bye, with the five-game win streak feeling strangely distant now.
No. 15 (down 2 spots): Pete Prisco, CBS Sports
That was a damning loss to the Bears that really hurts [the Vikings] playoff hopes. Josh Dobbs came back to reality in a big way in that one.
No. 18 (down 4 spots): Josh Kendall, The Athletic
Despite Josh Dobbs throwing four interceptions and despite losing to the Chicago Bears, the Vikings are still in the playoffs as the No. 7 seed for the moment. The problem is they still have to play the Lions twice. The Dobbs story was fun for a while, but the Vikings should have started working on a new deal for Kirk Cousins at some point in the second half Monday night.
No. 16 (down 2 spots): NFL Staff, Bleacher Report
Over the past few weeks, quarterback Josh Dobbs was something of a folk hero in Minnesota.
After leading the Vikings to wins in his first two games, fans loved Dobbs. Teammates like wide receiver Justin Jefferson gushed about what his athleticism brought to the offense.
"He's been doing some tremendous things, things that will keep you speechless," Jefferson told reporters.
Well, fans were pretty speechless Monday night against the Bears. Or at least the words they said I can't print here.
Yes, Dobbs led the Vikings on a go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter before the Bears drove back down the field for a game-winning field goal. But that drive came after a horrific outing in which he was picked off four times.
The Vikings had less than 250 yards of offense and lost at home to a Bears team that hadn't won a game in the division since 2021.
No. 16 (down 2 spots): Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News
The Vikings have hit a sudden snag offensively with Josh Dobbs. They really need Justin Jefferson back to save their Wild Card hopes after the bye.
No. 18 (no change): Nate Davis, USA Today Sports
And you thought Dobbs couldn't replace Kirk Cousins. The "Passtronaut" made his Monday Night Football debut … and threw four interceptions in a 12-10 loss to Chicago. Dobbs is now 0-4 in prime time. But it will be fine – Minnesota's next three games are Sunday afternoon kickoffs.
No. 20 (down 6 spots): Frank Schwab, Yahoo! Sports
I'm not sure how to process that Vikings loss. Their offense was beyond inept. Joshua Dobbs has been a great story this season, but he was inexplicably bad on Monday night. It's possible it was just a one-off performance and Dobbs will bounce back, but it seemed like perhaps the clock just struck midnight.