The Vikings Are Evidently ‘Vulnerable’

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Former NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho placed the Minnesota Vikings fifth in his NFC rankings this week, but outside of the Vikings fan orbit, he’s among the few NFL pundits high on the club in 2023.

Sportsbooks and pundits largely agree that Minnesota resembles an eight- or nine-win team in Kevin O’Connell’s second year.

The Vikings Are Evidently ‘Vulnerable’

And one analyst has slapped a juicy new label onto the Vikings — vulnerable.

Are Evidently
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Indeed,’s analyst panel predicted vulnerable division winners from 2022, and for Kevin Patra, that was the Vikings. He wrote Friday, “After winning 11 games by eight or fewer points in 2022, including five by three, Minnesota could organically see regression in close games. Then there are the roster questions, with a defense sporting holes, particularly in a young secondary. The Vikes are counting on new coordinator Brian Flores to work magic on one of the league’s worst units from last season.”

As of mid-May, these are the odds for NFC North division winners:

  • Detroit Lions: +130
  • Minnesota Vikings: +300
  • Chicago Bears: +325
  • Green Bay Packers: +400
Hockenson Chatter
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Patra continued, “The uncertain Dalvin Cook situation could take a chunk out of the offense if the club ultimately moves on. Minnesota boasts offensive weapons and a solid O-line that should put up points in a weaker division, but duplicating last season’s performance appears iffy at best.”

‘Regression’ is a wildly popular Vikings topic because — let’s face it — the franchise simply can’t win 11 games again by one score or less. They’ll have to pay the piper, but that also doesn’t mean O’Connell’s team has to be bad in close games. The impeccable and undefeated streak will end in 2023, though.

The School to Watch
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

On defense, Minnesota is asking the newcomer Flores to fix it — and damn near alone. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah purged players with fat contracts and other veterans like Eric Kendricks (Chargers), Patrick Peterson (Steelers), and Dalvin Tomlinson (Browns) while curiously not re-signing Duke Shelley, who performed wonderfully in 2022.

For Cook, he’s likely to be traded or released around or after June 1st, but it is unclear if that will be a severe detriment. Cook produced impressive homerun touchdown plays in 2022 but struggled in basic metrics like yards per carry and yards over expected.

Other vulnerable teams per The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (for obvious no-Brady reasons) and the Buffalo Bills because of Aaron Rodgers’ arrival to the division.

If the Vikings smack down the vulnerable talk and win the division again, it’ll be the first time since 2008-2009 that they’ve won back-to-back NFC North titles.

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 Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by