Dec 10, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) celebrates after the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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Vikings demote Josh Dobbs, QB Nick Mullens to start Saturday

Nick Mullens was named starting quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings, giving the playoff-pursuing contender a fourth QB1 in 14 games this season.

Josh Dobbs was benched in the fourth quarter at Las Vegas in favor of Mullens, who helped steer Minnesota to a 3-0 win over the Raiders.

Head coach Kevin O’Connell had refused to name a starting quarterback on Monday but on Tuesday shared his decision to elevate Mullens to the starting role for Saturday’s game in Cincinnati.

At 7-6, the Vikings and Bengals are both in the hunt for the playoffs without their planned No. 1 quarterbacks.

Mullens isn’t new to the role. He has 17 career starts — 16 with the 49ers from 2018-2020 and one in 2021 with the Browns — but was injured when the Vikings lost Kirk Cousins to a season-ending injury in Week 8. That led Minnesota to start rookie Jaren Hall, who was knocked out of the game with a concussion, prompting the Vikings to insert Dobbs.

Mullens completed 9 of 13 passes for 83 yards last week at Las Vegas and generated the Vikings’ only points in the game. Dobbs was 10-of-23 passing for 63 and was sacked five times by the Raiders before being benched.

It was the second straight rough outing for Dobbs. He was intercepted four times Nov. 27 in a 12-10 home loss to the Chicago Bears, prompting O’Connell to review the pecking order at the position during the team’s bye week.

Dobbs is likely to be the third quarterback at Cincinnati with Hall elevated to No. 2, but O’Connell said the team was still setting the depth chart.

The Bengals have won back-to-back games with Jake Browning at quarterback in place of Joe Burrow, who is on injured reserve.

Minnesota is 5-2 on the road this season.

–Field Level Media

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