ESPN Pounds Home Vikings Playoff Odds

One Clue Why
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The 2023 Minnesota Vikings went from buffoonish in September and early October to bonafide playoff contenders by November.

The franchise totally reversed fortune after starting 1-4 and losing wide receiver Justin Jefferson, rattling off five consecutive wins, all triumphs over NFC foes.

ESPN Pounds Home Vikings Playoff Odds

And now the team’s prognosis is so glowing for the postseason that ESPN claims the Vikings are close to a shoo-in for the postseason, barring a monumental collapse.

ESPN Pounds Home
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ESPN updated its Football Power Index (FPI) on Monday and classified the Vikings in a Tier 3 playoff group called “Likely in, barring a collapse.”

ESPN’s Seth Walder handed Minnesota an 86% playoff probability, with a 22% chance to win the NFC North, and explained, “Does quarterback Joshua Dobbs have even more magic in him? At first, it seemed Minnesota’s playoff hopes were dashed with Kirk Cousins’ season-ending Achilles injury. But after Dobbs led the team to upsets over the Falcons and Saints — two of the Vikings’ competitors for a wild-card spot — Minnesota’s season didn’t seem quite so over after all.”

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The Vikings acquired Dobbs on the NFL’s trade deadline day via low-risk swap, sending Dobbs and a 7th-Round draft pick to Minnesota for a 6th-Rounder to the Arizona Cardinals. All Dobbs has done since is help the Vikings win two games during a playoff chase, using new-to-Vikings-fans mobility and some charisma along the way.

“Brian Flores’ blitz-happy defense has been solid and a surprising bonus for the Vikings, who can more than hold their own against the rest of the candidates for the NFC’s No. 7 spot even without their starting quarterback,” Walder added about the Vikings defense.

Aspect of Vikings
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That blitz-happy defense sponsored by Flores has turned the corner from early-season doldrums to a Top 10 bunch per EPA/Play after Week 10. Per EPA/Play, the Vikings now have a better cumulative defense in 2023 than the Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles, and Detroit Lions, among 20 other teams.

The Vikings also silenced their turnover demons, for the most part, in recent weeks. Kevin O’Connell’s team led the sport in giveaways — not in a good way — in the season’s first five games but have tamed the follies and started forcing turnovers, too.

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The snazzy new playoff odds will also be aided this month by the return of impact players. Justin Jefferson should be back on the field before too long — possibly in Week 11 at Denver — and Marcus Davenport isn’t supposed to miss the entire season.

Fans went from wondering how high the Vikings could pick in next April’s draft to pondering playoff seeds in a matter of weeks. Mind-boggling.

Other teams living in the “Likely in, barring a collapse” with the Vikings? The Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, and 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).

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