Vikings Picked to Win NFC North — But There’s a Catch

The Vikings 2022 Offense by the Numbers: After Week 12
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings begin 2023 regular season operations this Sunday at noon, hosting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Minnesota is favored to down the Tom Brady-less Buccaneers by six, one of the NFL’s largest points spreads of the week.

Vikings Picked to Win NFC North — But There’s a Catch

And Vikings fans are anxious to learn if the 2022 team was “just lucky,” as the national narrative has indicated for the last eight months. Minnesota finished 13-4 during head coach Kevin O’Connell’s first season last year, and after the New York Giants ended the Vikings brief playoff exploration, everyone commonly agreed the purple team wasn’t very good in the first place.

Picked to Win
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Accordingly, oddsmakers believe Minnesota will win eight or nine games in 2023, a vast drop-off from the 2022 division-winning 13 wins.

This week, CBS Sports picked the Vikings to win the division in back-to-back seasons, but there’s a catch: CBS Sports‘ John Breech thinks Minnesota will take the NFC North with a 9-8 record, a rather uninspiring prognosis for fans who expect promising activity from the team in O’Connell’s second go-round.

Watch for Kirk Cousins
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports.

Breech predicted the NFC North to shake out like this:

  1. *Vikings: 9-8
  2. *Lions: 9-8
  3. Packers: 7-10
  4. Bears: 6-11
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

With a Lions-centric explanation, Breech opined, “Although I’m not picking the Lions to win the division this year, fans in Detroit might not hate me for that since I AM picking the Lions to end their 32-year drought without a playoff win.”

Detroit is the media darling to win the division, so Breech’s choice is a bit outside the box.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

“For those of you who have lost track or weren’t born yet, the Lions haven’t won a playoff game since January 1992 when they beat the Cowboys in the divisional round to advance to the NFC Championship for the first and only time in franchise history. I don’t think they’ll be getting back to the NFC title game, but I do think we’ll see them pull off a wild-card win this year,” Breech added.

The Vikings will “take it any way they can get it,” especially for a division title, but a 9-8 record would cause groans for some of the team’s faithful. It feels like purgatory, particularly in a somewhat weak NFC North now that Aaron Rodgers’ home address is in the AFC.

Minnesota hasn’t won back-to-back division titles or reached the postseason in consecutive seasons since 2008-2009.

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