Vikings Can Grab Momentum with Hot Start

Kevin O'Connell
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Even with Roger Goodell adding a game to the NFL regular season, there is no major sport where the outcome of a single game matters more than it does at the highest level of football. Last season, the Vikings won 13 games, and while that’s a bar they may not clear this year, starting strong could be imperative for them.

Vikings Can Grab Momentum with Hot Start

Kevin O’Connell enters year two as the Minnesota Vikings head coach, and his greatest achievement will be finding a way to avoid regression. While the 13-win Minnesota experience last year was memorable, many Vikings victories came late or in tight ball games. That isn’t exactly sustainable year-over-year, but starting strong makes a difference.

can grab momentum
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Of course, the Vikings need to beat a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team coming to U.S. Bank Stadium during a year of transition. Tom Brady has retired, finally. Baker Mayfield is under center for a new team. Todd Bowles has plenty of returning cast members, but this will be anything but a seamless transition.

As favorites by nearly a touchdown, Vegas sees the Vikings as the better team. Combined with the bonus of homefield advantage and a strong offense, there should be no reason that Minnesota can’t come out ahead. If and when the Vikings start 1-0, though, how beneficial is it to have their competition lag?

Kicking off the NFL season on Thursday night, the reigning Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs welcome the Detroit Lions to Arrowhead Stadium. The Lions are projected to be the favorites in the NFC North this year, but they are significant underdogs in their Week 1 tilt. Even if Travis Kelce doesn’t suit up alongside Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid’s squad should have the firepower to grab a victory.

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell, first-round picks receiver Jameson Williams and defensive end Aidan Hutchinson pose for a picture with GM Brad Holmes during the press conference Friday, April 29, 2022 at the Detroit Lions practice facility in Allen Park. MAIN Lionspicks. © Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Assuming the Lions lose, the Vikings would already have a game over one of their top rivals. Detroit has improved over last year, but like Minnesota, they employed one of the league’s worst defenses. Getting off to a tough start isn’t something the Vikings will feel bad for; trying to lead with that momentum is a must.

Staying in the division, Green Bay and Chicago play each other at Soldier Field. Even without Aaron Rodgers, the Packers should probably be expected to remain in contention for the division, which means they’ll likely finish ahead of the Bears. Green Bay is a slight underdog on the road, but either way, one of the Vikings top opponents will begin with a loss. Starting the season with an advantage over two competing teams is an enviable position.

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If Kevin O’Connell fails to prepare his team for a victory on Sunday against Tampa Bay, there will be rippling effects across the Vikings schedule. They come in with a chance to significantly influence the odds in their favor right out of the gate. Overhauling a defense and with a change in critical players, Minnesota will look to establish a new identity early. The more the Vikings can accomplish that while winning, the better off they will be.

Evaluating an 18-week season for one game is quite a lofty ask. There’s really no reason to wonder how the outcome of Week 1 will impact Week 18. For the Vikings, though, starting the year with a one in the win column puts them in an enviable position, given how their competition is expected to play out.

When the dust settles on 2023, the Vikings don’t have to be better than the 2022 team. O’Connell needs his group to be better than the competition this year, and they have an obvious path to establish that narrative right out of the gate.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.