Forecast for 2023 Vikings? ‘Shootouts.’

Week 16 vs
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings will rely heavily on offense, offense, and more offense in 2023.

The franchise made the statement — without words — during the 2023 NFL Draft when it selected wide receiver Jordan Addison in the 1st Round. Minnesota needed to improve defensively but chose an offensive playmaker instead.

Forecast for 2023 Vikings? ‘Shootouts.’

That’s the way it goes with an offense-first head coach in Kevin O’Connell, who just so happens to be a former quarterback. The Vikings identity has shifted from Mike Zimmer’s hardnosed embrace of defensive supremacy to O’Connell’s finessed offensive approach.

Forecast for 2023
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

And according to Bleacher Report, Minnesota will need shootouts to get the job done this fall and winter. BR’s Gary Davenport analyzed each division this week, determining the ‘best and worst-case scenarios’ for each.

Regarding the NFC North, he wrote, “The Minnesota Vikings won the North last year with a 13-4 record, but a leaky defense did the team in in the postseason. Shore that defense up some, and Minnesota’s high-octane offense is capable of scoring in bunches.”

Kirk Cousins Confirms
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings ranked eight in points scored last year but 30th in points allowed — en route to a 13-4 division-winning record.

“Now, at least one of these teams is heading to the postseason — that’s how divisions work. But the best-case scenario is a team (likely the Lions or Vikings) showing they can be more than just the division champs. The best-case is a team demonstrating that they can hold their own with the Eagles and 49ers and have a real chance at a deep postseason run,” Davenport continued.

Vikings to Showcase
Minnesota Vikings Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center. Flores was hired in February 2023 to take over for Ed Donatel after Minnesota finished 30th in points allowed.

To fix the porous defense, Minnesota parted ways with 2022 defensive coordinator Ed Donatell four days after the Vikings playoff loss to the New York Giants and hired Brian Flores in February.

Davenport concluded, “The Vikings weren’t much better defensively last year than the Lions —Detroit was the only team in the NFL that surrendered more yards per game. Minnesota didn’t do a lot to upgrade that defense in the offseason, so if the Vikings are going to win games in 2023, it’s going to be via shootouts.”

Getting His Madden
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And truth be told, Davenport probably isn’t wrong. Vikings fans expect Flores to improve the defense on the fly, but it’s unlikely to transform from near-worst to near-best in a matter of months. Ranking near the middle of the league defensively should be a reasonable and obtainable goal for Flores in Year One.

Thankfully, concerning the shootout forecast, the Vikings already proved in 2022 they could win 13 games with a trashy defense. Anything better than second-worst in yards allowed and third-worst in points allowed — last year’s stats — can enhance the team and stave off oft-predicted regression.

Vikings training camp begins Sunday.

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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