A Thanksgiving Feast Fit for a Viking

It’s officially the holiday season, and per usual, we get to kick it off with a Thanksgiving dinner and some football. Amidst this festive time of year, I thought it’d be a fun opportunity to mix up the content a little bit to talk about what we’ve seen from the Vikings this season–with a little holiday twist.

While you are preparing whatever you will be enjoying this Turkey Day, let’s take a look at the Thanksgiving feast that head coach Kevin O’Connell has been cooking up for Vikings fans this season.

Turkey: Kirk Cousins

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Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports.

The turkey is the show stopper, the main event of any Thanksgiving dinner. If the turkey is dry and underwhelming, the dinner is going to have a much lower chance of satisfying guests. Likewise, there isn’t quite anything like carving a freshly cooked bird to find that it’s cooked perfectly.

For all the guff that Kirk Cousins has gotten over the years for not being clutch enough or only focusing on stats, he’s turned all the haters into believers this year. Cousins has been the star of the show for the Vikings all season long, and they wouldn’t be 8-2 without some extremely clutch performances from him. He’s the main even of Kevin O’Connell’s Thanksgiving feast.

Gravy: Justin Jefferson

Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson. © JAMIE GERMANO / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Gravy makes just about everything at the Thanksgiving table better. It’s the perfect complement to any turkey, and it has its fingerprints all over a plate.

Similarly, Justin Jefferson has taken a good Vikings team and made them a great one. He’s had so many huge moments this year, and the Vikings wouldn’t be in the position that they find themselves in without him.

Mashed Potatoes: Christian Darrisaw

Sep 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

Old reliable. As long as you don’t dreadfully overcook them, it’s tough to screw up the mashed potatoes. All you need to do is throw enough butter and salt in there, and you’re pretty much set. If you aren’t enjoying much of what’s available, you can always just load your plate up with some mashed potatoes and gravy, and you’ll be happy. 

This Thanksgiving, the Vikings may be without their mashed potatoes on the offensive line, but this season has been an outstanding one for Christian Darrisaw. He’s filled in the cracks for the Vikings passing offense beautifully, protecting Kirk Cousins all season.

Green Bean Casserole: Dalvin Cook

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Vikings running back Dalvin Cook. © JAMIE GERMANO / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Look, green bean casserole is not the most glamorous thing you’ll find on the Thanksgiving menu. It oftentimes gets overlooked when put amongst the rest of the spread. However, it’s still a key addition to any meal. If your Thanksgiving dinner is anything like mine usually is, there aren’t that many options that can pass as “healthy”. You need the green beans to add a little balance.

Similarly, the Vikings offense can’t just rely on Kirk Cousins zipping the ball to Justin Jefferson on every play. They need to find a little bit of balance in their offensive attack. Dalvin Cook and his rushing ability has been just that for the Vikings this year. He’s not always going to be the flashy RB that puts up huge numbers, but some timely runs have helped the Vikings get their record to where it is.

Sweet Potatoes: Patrick Peterson

Jul 28, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson (7) during training camp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Sweet potatoes (or yams, whichever you’re enjoying on Thursday), are probably the brightest dish on your Thanksgiving plate. They are also the indulgence that we get to enjoy with our dinners because, let’s be honest, they are probably loaded up with enough butter and sugar to be considered a dessert. But hey, if you don’t say anything, I won’t, either.

The re-emergence of Patrick Peterson has been the sweet ingredient that the Vikings have needed on the defensive side of the ball. He’s been a complete playmaker this year, coming up with takeaways when the Vikings need them most. Hopefully, he can do that again against the Patriots tonight.

Stuffing: Za’Darius Smith

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Jul 28, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Za’Darius Smith. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

You can’t really have a Thanksgiving dinner without turkey and stuffing. They feed off each other to make a great pairing on any plate. In the same way, the best way to form a Super Bowl contender is to have a great offense and defense that feed off one another.

While the Vikings offense has been putting points on the board, Za’Darius Smith has been a major catalyst towards an improving Vikings defense. He’s loaded up box scores week after week, and we may look back on this offseason with him as the best free agent acquisition for any team.

Dinner Roll: Garrett Bradbury

Minnesota Vikings center Garrett Bradbury. (John Autey / Pioneer Press).

Your entire dinner can’t consist of dinner rolls, just like a team’s offense can’t solely rely on their center for production. But when you get a good roll, you should appreciate every warm, doughy bite. 

After a few rough seasons to begin his career, Garrett Bradbury has been forced to come into the 2022 season with a “prove it” mentality. Well, prove it he has. All the Vikings have been begging for is average production at the center position, and there’s an argument to be made that Bradbury has even been a bit above average. You won’t always notice him, but the Vikings wouldn’t be as good as they are without him.

Hot Sauce: T.J. Hockenson

Nov 6, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports.

Have you ever tried drenching a slice of turkey or some mashed potatoes in hot sauce? I’d recommend it this Thanksgiving if not. It gives a bit of a different, tangy flavor profile than the usual ones you’ll find on the table this weekend.

Similarly, T.J. Hockenson has been an unexpected, albeit very much welcomed, flavor to the Vikings offense this season. Ever since Minnesota acquired him at the trade deadline, he’s immediately come and been a producer for the team and has even shown up in some critical moments.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.