Vikings Are the 8th-Worst Team in Football per ‘Football Outsiders’

Vikings Are the 8th-Worst Team in Football per 'Football Outsiders'
Kevin O'Connell

Nothing stokes the fire of the Minnesota Vikings-themed “fraud vs. contender” debate like Football Outsiders‘ DVOA metric.

Green Bay Packers fans and pundits have weaponized the metric for weeks, hoping to expose the Vikings as fluky frauds after Minnesota sprinted to a 12-3 division-winning record through 16 weeks. The Vikings are a mind-boggling 11-0 in games decided by eight or fewer points, and that stat is not good enough for some naysayers.

Vikings Are the 8th-Worst Team in Football per ‘Football Outsiders’

Most Vikings detractors rely on logic that the team’s luck just has to run out. They do not believe Minnesota’s late-game heroics are sustainable, and hence a reckoning is coming. Otherwise, the Vikings would’ve beaten a few teams by more than eight points — is the mentality for “fraud Vikings” beholders.

Then, metrics like DVOA are utilized as evidence, which is actually fair. The DVOA metrics from Football Outsiders are not biased against Minnesota, nor do they seek to unjustly defame the purple team.

Team in Football per
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

For starters, here’s how DVOA is defined:

DVOA breaks down the entire season play-by-play, comparing success on each play to the league average based on a number of variables including down, distance, location on field, current score gap, quarter, and opponent quality. While it can be used as a measure of total team performance, it differs from other power ratings found throughout the Web because it can be broken down to analyze team effectiveness in any number of ways: down, quarter, rushing vs. receiving, location on field, passes to backs vs. passes to receivers, and so on.

– Football Outsiders

So, you know — by the numbers. No tomfoolery. Just examining Xs and Os. Agendas be damned. Well, the Vikings check in at No. 25 via the team metric through Week 16. And that means the Vikings are the eighth-worst team in the business, per Football Outsiders. Curiously, these teams, for example, are better than the Vikings per team DVOA:

  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Los Angeles Rams
  • New Orleans Saints
  • Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Washington Commanders

That, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg. The titans-of-industry franchises like the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs obviously outrank the Vikings.

Vikings Can Fix Defense en Route to Division Title
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports.

This is the top of the NFL’s pecking order per DVOA;

That leaves one question — and one only — for Vikings loyalists. Do I care that stats fail to show the Vikings in a positive light?

For most onlookers, the answer is an emphatic no. Yet, for others, the math illustrates an impending pay-the-piper scenario where Minnesota is gutted in the postseason — or even this weekend at the Green Bay Packers or the Chicago Bears on January 8th.

Whether you’re in the camp of “probably frauds” or “team of destiny,” one item is verifiable — the Vikings are in good hands with a first-year head coach. A ballclub doesn’t get to 12-3 through sheer serendipity. Even if the Vikings are eviscerated by the San Francisco 49ers or Philadelphia Eagles in the postseason, no Vikings fan alive is missing Mike Zimmer, nor does anyone believe the O’Connell hire was lousy.

Ergo, your job is to sit back and watch the next 3 to 7 weeks pan out as the “fraud vs. contender” debate will be settled in actual games.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).