Cris Carter’s Hot Take about 2023 Vikings

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Do you feel like the 2023 Minnesota Vikings are a better football team than last year’s 8-1 group through nine games?

You’re not alone.

Cris Carter’s Hot Take about 2023 Vikings

Vikings legend and Hall of Famer Cris Carter offered a similar sentiment this week, speaking to KFAN, a Twin Cities radio station, and explaining his delight regarding the current purple team.

Hot Take about 2023

“I’m more impressed with the four that they won, given the personnel, given the adversity, and the way the defense plays than the 14 games they won last year,” Carter told Dan Barreiro.

The Vikings have a 5-4 record heading into Week 10 and take on the New Orleans Saints this Sunday.

falcons tilt
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Last year, Minnesota surprisingly fired off a 13-4 record — Carter mistakenly said “14 wins,” but it was 13; it happens — but most credible NFL efficiency metrics claimed the team flatly wasn’t very good. Kevin O’Connell and friends tallied an 11-0 record in one-score games, an NFL record, but never trounced any opponents.

In fact, the Vikings haven’t beaten a team by 17+ points since December 2019. The streak has become dreadfully long, and with the Vikings losing Kirk Cousins for 2023’s remainder, plus Justin Jefferson still out, it may not end soon.

Cris Carter Nominates Justin Jefferson as Best Vikings WR -- Ever.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Still, even with a three-game difference in the win column between 2022 and 2023, Carter may be onto something. The Vikings finished last year ranked 27th via Fantasy FTN’s DVOA metric, also known as the sixth-worst team in the league. That’s right, the team owning a 13-4 record was the sport’s sixth-worst club, per DVOA.

This season, the DVOA metric isn’t elite yet — or anywhere close to it — ranking 18th, but that’s a far cry from 27th. Put plainly, the 2023 Vikings at 5-4 are probably better than the 2022 Vikings at 8-1.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

How is that possible? Well, it’s mainly a defensive condition. Last year, for some reason, the Vikings defense only stiffened when the 4th Quarter rolled around, utilizing an oft-criticized “bend but don’t break” mentality, whereas this season, Brian Flores has created a defense that is intense at all times. Flores was hired this offseason to replace Ed Donatell, and after a few games to find its footing, Minnesota’s defense took off after a Week 3 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

After Week 9, the Vikings rank 10th on offense per EPA/Play and 11th on defense per the same metric. When the turnovers lessened, and Flores’ defense began creating fumbles + interceptions, everything changed.

And like Carter mentioned, the personnel absences haven’t much mattered as a result.

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