After a 1-5 start, Vikings fans inclined to look toward the future allowed themselves to dream about a fall so hard and fast that it would put them into the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes.
Many of those same fans recalibrated after the Vikings evened their record at 6-6, instead hoping for a playoff berth.
Now that those hopes have been eliminated, the Vikings have settled into that uncomfortable place: bad enough to miss the playoffs, but not bad enough to get a truly premium pick.
If the Vikings lose Sunday in their finale against the Lions — who are also playing for nothing but pride and draft position — they could wind up with as high as the No. 9 pick. But that would require some help in the form of wins by Carolina, Denver and the Chargers — three teams that are a combined 16-29 this season. That would get the Vikings into a multi-team logjam at 6-10, where strength of schedule tiebreakers work for them in some cases and against them in others.
A win could drop the Vikings as low as No. 15, though that too is dependent on what other teams do. Who would they take with what will at least be a top-15 pick?
Our own Mark Craig took an early swing at it and has Minnesota taking Ohio State guard Wyatt Davis with the No. 13 pick, the draft slot they occupy going into Sunday's game. If he's right, that would be the fifth consecutive season the Vikings spent a pick in the top three rounds on an offensive lineman in an ongoing quest to fix what has been broken.
What's perhaps more interesting than where the Vikings pick in the first round is just how long they will have to wait to pick again. Remember, they traded their 2021 second-round pick — which would be No. 44 overall as of now — to Jacksonville for Yannick Ngakoue.
So after being on the clock somewhere in the 9-15 range, as of now they'll have to wait until the third round and more than 60 picks later (currently No. 75) to pick again.
The Vikings recouped a third-rounder from Baltimore when they traded Ngakoue after six games, but that pick is currently projected as No. 86 overall. They also have three picks in the fourth round, and it's possible they could use some of that capital to trade up past the No. 75 pick.
But as it stands now, their first round pick will probably be their one chance to get a player they REALLY want.
Here are four other things I'm thinking about:
*There was a lot to dislike about the Timberwolves' 124-101 loss to the Clippers, starting with the 105 points allowed in the first three quarters before Los Angeles took its foot off the gas and stopped dunking at will.
But one thing that stands out as an ongoing negative trend dating back to his arrival last season is D'Angelo Russell's insistence on shooting midrange jumpers. He has games where he makes just enough of them — like Tuesday, when he was 3 for 6 from between 16 feet and the three point line — but there are others like Sunday (1 of 5 midrange) against the Lakers where a bad shot meets a bad result.
Those shots generally run counter to how coach Ryan Saunders wants to play.
*One thing to like about that game: Former Gophers Amir Coffey and Daniel Oturu both saw action for the Clippers, finishing a combined 4 of 5 and contributing nine points.
*This video of former Twins pitcher Joe Niekro on David Letterman in 1987 is a must-watch. I can't imagine any team PR department in the world would endorse such an appearance these days.
*There was a time, less than four months ago, when it was asserted that Carson Wentz was a better quarterback than Aaron Rodgers. Wentz was benched this year. Rodgers is a strong MVP candidate. The internet never forgets.