Vikings Named a Top ‘First to Worst’ Candidate

Vikings Are the 8th-Worst Team in Football per 'Football Outsiders'
Kevin O'Connell

Ask a non-Vikings-fan confidant about his or her projection for Minnesota’s 2023 season, and the response will involve regression.

Most folks outside the team’s fan orbit peg the Vikings for an inferior season compared to last year, when the club unexpectedly won 13 games in head coach Kevin O’Connell’s first season.

Vikings Named a Top ‘First to Worst’ Candidate

Vegas oddsmakers believe Minnesota will win eight or nine games, the same forecast presented by sportsbooks last year.

First to Worst
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports.

Well, Pro Football Network took the Vikings theoretical regression to the next step on Monday, labeling the purple team as a prime candidate to go from ‘first to worst’ within its division. The Vikings were No. 2 on Dalton Miller’s list, only trailing the Tom Brady-less Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a club Minnesota plays in Week 1.

PFN’s Dalton Miller explained, “Aaron Rodgers has been shipped off to New York Jersey, and the Minnesota Vikings now have a crystal clear path toward consecutive NFC North titles… right? What Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and the Vikings’ front office have done is certainly not a tactic we’ve seen from other teams in similar situations. However, this unique path could pay greater dividends going forward.”

Overhauled Teams
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Some Vikings fans have called for the franchise to either ‘tank’ or go all-in, while Adodo-Mensah has expressly stated his desire to ‘do both’ as the team’s leader.

“Minnesota traded away Adam Thielen and Za’Darius Smith. They cut Dalvin Cook. Danielle Hunter isn’t getting paid, and they don’t have any other legitimate pass-rush threats on the roster. Brian Flores’ CB group will probably consist of Byron Murphy (who is a peculiar scheme fit), a third-round rookie, and a second and fourth-round pick from last year’s draft,” Miller continued.

Vikings EDGE Rusher Needs Season of Dominance to Reestablish Reputation
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Hunter actually did get paid on Sunday, to the tune of a one-year, $17 million deal, expandable to $20 million with incentives. The Vikings also employ free-agent acquisition Marcus Davenport.

Miller then concluded, “Minnesota ranked 18th in offense EPA a season ago and 16th on the defensive side of the ball. The Vikings won 13 games, with 11 of them being one-score contests. It appears that Mensah and the Vikings are trying to play the long game here, trying to compete in the NFC North while also acknowledging their team isn’t good enough to win a Super Bowl.”

3 Takeaways from Vikings
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Miller’s hypothesis is just the latest in a long line of pundits forecasting a mediocre season in Minnesota. Thankfully, the regular season starts in 41 days, and nobody’s rankings or regression predictions will matter.

The Vikings haven’t won back-to-back division titles in 14 years.

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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