Don’t Underrate Vikings Super Bowl Chances in 2023

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The Minnesota Vikings had an extremely successful 2022 regular season. It was the first campaign of head coach Kevin O’Connell after a tumultuous offseason with many new coaches and players. However, the team still won 13 games. In the playoffs, the franchise lost their first contest, a terrible defensive performance was a big reason.

For 2023, most fans of the organization are more pessimistic. An aging team that might even get worse and a tough schedule are the two biggest causes for concern. However, at least one analyst is high on the 2023 season for the purple team.

Don’t Underrate Vikings Super Bowl Chances in 2023

Cody Benjamin from CBSSports ranked the 12 eliminated playoff teams and their chances to win the Super Bowl next season. The Vikings clocked in at the fourth spot, even better than the San Francisco 49ers, who have a loaded team and were close this year.

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His first reason for optimism is the head coach.

Maybe this is giving a franchise synonymous with big-game heartbreak too much credit, but Kevin O’Connell gave the team a true injection of life in his first year on the job.

O’Connell has been a wonderful hire by general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. He brought in a new culture with a lot of positive energy. The team is never out of games, not even when they are down 33 points at halftime.

Feuds are a problem of the past, and people genuinely seem to like each other, and the positive culture O’Connell established in the locker room. The change was much needed and paid off big time. Benjamin’s next point for optimism is actually a reason for concern.

The “D” was an absolute sieve, but the plus side is, post-Ed Donatell, that unit almost literally can’t be worse.

Donatell’s unit was a disaster and held the team back. The defense deserves the most blame for the losses against the Lions in the regular season and against the Giants in the postseason. Some other games were close wins, but they shouldn’t have been close, and the defense kept the opponents in some games.

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At the end of the season, Donatell lost his job. The candidates for his succession are Brian Flores, Sean Desai, and Mike Pettine. Broncos’ defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero might be a dark horse candidate but is arguably the best man for the job.

More importantly, Kirk Cousins actually exercised more resilience in a year full of close games, and Justin Jefferson is the type of MVP-level threat that always gives them a chance.

Cousins played excellent late in games. However, he did the same thing in 2021 and didn’t get nearly enough credit because the team couldn’t pull off the same number of wins. Mostly, again, the defense didn’t do its job.

Now that the quarterback certifiably has the clutch gene, a Super Bowl run is always possible. A Joe Flacco-like postseason is something Cousins, in theory, could pull off, especially considering the level of play he is capable of when he is on a hot streak.

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Justin Jefferson is outstanding. He is one of the top players in the league, and even terrible spots like a fourth and 18 are possible by just throwing the ball in his direction. Cousins and Jefferson built a special connection, and the Vikings will likely have another season of the duo.

Benjamin’s final reason is very good, and it increases the chances of completing the first step in winning the Super Bowl — reaching the postseason.

In an NFC North undergoing transition, with the Packers a wild card and the Bears still rebuilding, they’ve got a path back to contention.

The Packers are a wild card because no one knows who the quarterback will be. Longtime Vikings rival Aaron Rodgers might see himself getting traded, and Jordan Love is unproven. The Bears have a ton of cap space and draft capital, but it’s unlikely to make them a contender for the division in just one offseason.

Detroit has a solid team and will be everybody’s favorite to steal the division from the Vikings. However, they must prove it. First, expectations won’t win them a single game. It may not be as uncontested as it was in 2022, but winning the division is absolutely possible in 2023, which will be the first big step toward the ultimate goal.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt