8 Things More Underrated Than the Vikings

Nov 12, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell celebrates with quarterback Joshua Dobbs (15) after a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Week 11 edition of the “Power Rankings” from the major media outlets followed a common thread, where the Minnesota Vikings are concerned: the Purple are viewed as a middle-of-the-pack team.

Each of USA Today, NFL.com, ESPN, Bleacher Report and The Ringer placed Minnesota in the #15 or #16 position, squarely in the middle of the 32-team league. This despite the Vikings’ current 6-4 record, good enough for a playoff spot if the season were to end today.

The Bengals (5-4), Texans (5-4), Bills (5-5) and Chargers (4-5) are all teams with lesser records that have been listed above Minnesota in the various Power Rankings. This, of course, has elicited scorn and fury by the Viking faithful on social media, where cries of “The Vikings are Underrated!” are littering newsfeeds everywhere.

Nov 12, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Joshua Dobbs (15) warms up before the game against the New Orleans Saints at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Are the Vikings underrated? Possibly. They are currently ranked 12th in the NFL in winning percentage (.600), 10th in scoring (tops in the league in passing, but 28th in rushing), 6th in total yards, 12th in points allowed and 13th in yards allowed. The are probably worthy of a ranking consistent with their record—say, 12th rather than 15th or 16th.

But one can hardly blame evaluators for continuing to wonder whether this team is destined for much more than that, if only because of the parade of injuries to key players. Only PurplePTSD’s own Josh Frey has had the guts to put the Vikes in the top dozen; Josh placed the Vikes at #11 in his Week 11 Power Rankings.

But as entertaining as this run has been, and as strong as the passing game continues to be, it’s hard to predict anything more than a playoff appearance for this year’s edition of the purple. Those offensive and defensive rankings say they are good, and that the air attack has even been great.

Nov 12, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell celebrates with quarterback Joshua Dobbs (15) after a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Dobbs is adding some success to the ground game through his remarkable scrambling skills, but that first-place ranking in passing yards is likely not sustainable with Dobbs averaging 213 yards/game in two strong showings with the Vikings, while Kirk Cousins had averaged 291 in the eight previous contests. Pure and simple, this team is good, but not elite.

So, if you’re the kind of person who likes to shout on social media about the gross injustice between a 15 ranking and a 12 ranking in a subjective exercise, knock yourself out. Me, I think there are other things that are far more grossly underrated, and it’s time someone pointed them out. Here’s my list of (some of the) supremely underrated persons, places, and things in the world today:

8 Things More Underrated than the Vikings

Nov 12, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker D.J. Wonnum (98) celebrates his sack against the New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr (4) in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Sebastian Joe’s Nicollet Avenue Pothole Ice Cream

I’ve visited the ice cream nirvana that is Sebastian Joe’s many times over the years. I’m guessing I was blinded by the name of this particular flavor of ice cream, which evokes the horrible craters that appear each winter on one of south Minneapolis’ major thoroughfares.

For whatever the reason, it wasn’t until Friday night of last week that I had tried this ridiculous combination of chocolate ice cream, caramel, Heath Bar chunks, fudge truffles, fudge swirls, and sea salt. As I type this, saliva is dripping from the corner of my mouth onto my keyboard. It’s the kind of ice cream experience that begs to be repeated over, and over, and over again. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the most underrated ice cream in town.

“Abbott Elementary”

How can a show earn a Best-Comedy Emmy nod in each of its two seasons and be considered underrated? Simple: I’ll consider this gem, to be underrated until everyone in America has watched it. It’s an amazing little comedy that combines incredible writing and acting while mixing in an important ongoing life-lesson about how criminally underfunded our public schools have become without ever beating us over the head with it. I’ll consider it underrated until everyone knows who Quinta Brunson, the show’s creator and star Quinta Brunson, is. If you haven’t watched it yet, watch it.

Cam Bynum

He’s like the little brother who’s grown up before our eyes. Camryn Bynum has gone, suddenly, from the young safety who’s feeling his way and has a nice game now and then (his rookie year) to a scrappy contributor who keeps grabbing fumble recoveries (2022) to a full-on man who’s one of the best in the game at his position.

It’s like watching the Fresh Prince turn into a box office superstar, except it’s not a 30-year-old story. The only problem is, most fans are still looking at the secondary like it’s Harrison Smith’s secondary. Bynum is the real deal, and he, Josh Metellus and Mekhi Blackmon are making Smith’s golden years as comfortable and stress-free as possible.

Toad the Wet Sprocket

For my money, Toad is the most underrated band of the 90’s. Sure, Nirvana and Pearl Jam and Alanis Morisette were great, but everybody knows that. Whenever I bring Toad up in conversation with a music-centric individual, I always get a blank stare, followed by a glimmer of comprehension, and then a snap of the finger before they admit they actually kind of like those guys.

Then a day or two later, I’ll get a follow-up call or text saying, “I forgot how many great songs they had!” If you like albums where every song is a banger (and you’re willing to make one exception for the puzzling final track) then go listen to their best album, Dulcinea. I’ll wait for a follow-up text.

Lonely Blonde American Blonde Ale

who doesn’t like to walk up to a bartender and say, “I’ll have a Lonely Blonde?” This Fulton Brewing Company creation is not necessarily the best beer out there, but it’s darn good and nobody ever brings it up when debating good beers. I feel like it gets lost in the hype for the best craft breweries (sorry, Fulton, but in my eyes you’re too big to still call yourself a craft brewery) but it’s available pretty much everywhere in Viking Land, and it always satisfies. Totally underrated.

Joe Buck

I know this one is going to draw the ire of well over half of all football fans out there, and therein lies the reason I’m going to label Joe Buck as “underrated”. I’m not going to claim that he’s the best play-by-play guy, but if you listen to the majority of fans with social media accounts or a voice that carries to the next table at the local sports bar, you will absolutely hear claims that he’s the worst play by play guy. Of 2023, of this decade, of this millennium.

I’m sorry, but I just don’t get it. I see and hear a guy who’s supremely articulate, knows how to tap into the drama of a pro game, has a voice that rings positively to the ear, has a sense of humor, and has bloodlines stemming back to one of the greats of an earlier age in his father Jack Buck. I think he’s perfectly fine, and I really like the chemistry that he and Troy Aikman share on their broadcasts. So: sue me, I said it. Joe Buck is perfectly fine, not unforgivably horrible. In this world of Haters, that makes him underrated.

Hot Water Bottles

Bud Grant would never admit it, but living in Minnesota does something to you in the winter time: it makes you COLD. We’ve all got our strategies for staying warm at night here in Viking Land. Mine is an old-school classic: a red rubber bladder filled with very hot water.

I don’t know what the science is to these things, but they keep hot water hot for hours and hours, and as you lay there in the cold darkness with your hot water bottle pressed against your feet or thighs or whatever part of your body that is most chronically freezing to the touch, you start to feel like, yes, I can get through this godforsaken cold evening with something approaching comfort and warmth.

Even after the hot water fades to warm, a good HWB will retain that warmth for several more hours, and even when you wake up eight hours later you might notice just a hint of that hot water that helped you get through to the morning. In 2023 it feels like a modern miracle, but it really hasn’t changed since it was patented 120 years ago by a Croatian genius named Slavoljub Eduard Penkala. Sure, you could spring for a nice electric blanket or try to talk your spouse into sharing body heat despite your arctic-cold feet. But I think Hot Water Bottles are the way to go. They’re just so good. And so underrated.

Nightmare Alley

Maybe this is another title issue. This Guillermo del Toro-directed psychological thriller stars Bradley Cooper and Cate Blanchett; when I say “psychological thriller” I mean it—you’ll be thinking about this movie for days after you’ve seen it. IF you see it.

This movie was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar in 2022. It grossed just $11.3 million in North America, and sometimes I think that’s an exaggeration, because whenever I bring it up to people looking for movie recommendations, they just look puzzled, as if they’re trying to remember a Toad the Wet Sprocket song.

Except there’s never a glimmer of recognition, at all. Bradley Cooper was amazing in this film; his performance, particularly late in the film, will tear you to shreds. If you see it, maybe you, me, and the eight other people in Viking Land who saw the film can meet up for a Lonely Blonde and talk about it.

I know there’s more! A good list is, in itself, an underrated joy of life—so, if you’ve got something you think is underrated, let me know about it. Drop me a note on Twitter, @TomWoldum. Let’s give some credit where credit is due!