Vikings Have Seen Murderer’s Row on Defense
Some have chided the 2022 Minnesota Vikings for “not blowing the doors off” any opponents this season.
The criticism is accurate, aside from a Week 1 triumph over the Green Bay Packers, 23-7. But, as of late, there’s a rather sound reason why the Vikings haven’t crushed anyone — there amidst a murderer’s row gauntlet of NFL defenses.
Per Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, these are the Top 4 defenses in the NFL through 12 weeks:
- Dallas Cowboys
- New England Patriots
- Buffalo Bills
- New York Jets
Do those teams look familiar? They should. These are the Vikings game outcomes from Week 10 to present:
- Week 10 = Vikings over Bills, 33-30
- Week 11 = Cowboys over Vikings, 40-3
- Week 12 = Vikings over Patriots, 33-26
- Week 13 = Jets at Vikings, TBD
Somehow, the Vikings are simply playing the NFL’s best four defenses — all in a row. It’s bad serendipity at its finest and nearly inexplicable from a scheduling-math standpoint.
Meanwhile, Minnesota also toppled a formidable defense in Week 9, edging the Washington Commanders 20-17. And the Commanders rank 11th leaguewide in the same DVOA metric. In Week 15, the Vikings host the Indianapolis Colts, owners of the NFL’s 13th-best defense per DVOA. Therefore, this Vikings bunch, a group with nine wins in 11 games, will earn its playoff seeding.
However, the Vikings can’t quite match resumes on defense with other squads. Minnesota ranks 23rd in defensive DVOA and 32nd in yards allowed to opponents. No team surrenders more yards to opponents than the 2022 Vikings.
Thankfully for their sake, the Vikings do many things well — probably why they boast the 9-2 record. These are the team stats allowing Minnesota to lead the NFC North and own the league’s second-best overall record:
- 3rd in Turnover Differential
- 4th in 4th Quarter Points Allowed
- 5th in Fewest Defensive Penalty Yards
- 5th in Takeaways
- 6th in Fewest Defensive Penalties
- 6th in 4th Down Conv %
- 7th in Rushing TDs
- 7th in Passing Yards
- 7th in Yards per Point
- 8th in 1st Downs
- 9th in TDs Scored
- 9th in Fewest Offensive Penalties
- 9th in Fewest Giveaways
- 10th in Passing TDs
- 10th in Fewest Offensive Penalty Yards
The Vikings get a reprieve from defensive murderer’s row in Week 14 against the Lions (25th in DVOA) and on Christmas Eve versus the Giants (28th).
The Jets, the Vikings opponent this week, also rank seventh in the NFL in sacks.
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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).
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