ESPN Not Enthusiastic about Vikings Playoff Chances

Unwaveringly Committed
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) looks on before the game between the Vikings and the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings are not a 2023 darling for postseason contention, according to national media and oddsmakers.

Minnesota is scheduled to win 8.5 games and teeter on the edge of postseason relevancy.

ESPN Not Enthusiastic about Vikings Playoff Chances

And per ESPN’s Bill Barnwell, the Vikings can be considered one of the teams that reached the dance last year but is unlikely to repeat the feat in 2023.

ESPN Not Enthusiastic
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) warms up before the game against the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Barwell ranked 2022 NFL playoff teams this week in order of 2023 postseason contention likelihood, and only the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished lower than Minnesota.

He explained, “They weren’t a very good team in 2022. Yes, the Vikings went 13-4. By every other measure, they were average or worse. They were outscored by three points. The FPI ranked them as the 16th-best team. Football Outsiders was even more dramatically out on Kevin O’Connell’s team, ranking it as the 27th-best team. Disasters teams, such as the Broncos and Raiders, rated ahead of the Vikings by Football Outsiders’ play-by-play metrics, but they were wildly more successful in the win-loss column.”

Dec 11, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Harrison Phillips (97) walks around on the sidelines during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports.

Indeed, the Vikings somehow turned into one of the first bad-but-good teams in ages as fans and pundits tried to understand for most of the regular season if the club was the real deal. Then the playoffs arrived, the Vikings lost at home to the aforementioned Giants, and naysayers felt vindicated.

“The Vikings have tried to retool on both sides of the ball this offseason, shedding the significant salaries of veterans Za’Darius Smith, Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook and Eric Kendricks. Investments in younger players Byron Murphy and Marcus Davenport will need to pay off, while the young talent drafted by general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah over the past two years will shoulder more responsibility. It would be truly stunning if Minnesota won 13 games again,” Barnwell continued.

Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Marcus Davenport addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center. Davenport joined the Vikings in March of 2023 after four seasons with the New Orleans Saints.

Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah embraced an addition-by-subtraction approach this offseason, parting ways with the veterans mentioned by Barnwell and promoting younger, more affordable players, especially on defense.

Barnwell concluded, “The good news for the Vikings is that they won’t need those 13 wins to make it to the postseason. They are in the weaker conference and line up in a wide-open NFC North, where the Packers are moving on to Jordan Love, the Bears are in the middle of a rebuild and the Lions won’t be able to sustain their turnover margin from the second half of 2022. Thirteen wins aren’t coming, but nine wins would be a lot more plausible. In a seven-team playoff, nine wins probably gets Minnesota in.”

Mar 1, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

Solely because Aaron Rodgers is gone and plays for the New York Jets, Minnesota should maintain a reasonable expectation to win the NFC North in back-to-back years for the first time since 2008-2009. However, the defense must improve on the fly, probably why the franchise parted ways with 2022 defensive coordinator Ed Donatell and hired Brian Flores for the job in February. The Vikings are banking on Flores to cleanse many 2022 sins with less-experienced players.

The Vikings first preseason game kicks off in eight days at the Seattle Seahawks.

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).

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