Vikings Tabbed as a ‘Top Underdog’ in 2023

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One might not think a football team that just won 13 games in a single season should be classified as an underdog anything the following season, but that’s the way it goes for the 2023 Minnesota Vikings.

Vikings Tabbed as a ‘Top Underdog’ in 2023

The purple team won the NFC North for the first time in five years last season under the tutelage of a new leadership tandem in general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell.

Top Underdog
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The problem, though, is most NFL pundits and sportsbooks don’t believe in the Vikings wherewithal to repeat the feat in 2023. In fact, the Detroit Lions have been universally accepted all offseason to emerge as NFC North champs, mostly because of their fantastic finish to the 2022 season, wiping the Green Bay Packers off the playoff picture.

Minnesota is scheduled to win 8.5 games in 2023 and has +4,000 Super Bowls odds, in the same boat as the Denver Broncos and New Orleans Saints.

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So, there’s a little bit of ‘prove them wrong’ connotation affiliated with this batch of Vikings — so much so that CBS Sports labeled Minnesota a ‘top underdog’ bet in 2023. CBS Sports’ Jordan Dajani authored an article titled Five NFL division underdogs to consider betting on, and the Vikings headlined the list.

With +300 odds to win the NFC North, Dajani explained his wager suggestion, “Minnesota did win 11 one-score games in 2022, which was an NFL record, and became the first team in NFL history with 12-plus wins and a negative point differential, but there’s a difference between regression toward the mean and a complete collapse.”

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The upside-down point differential has led NFL experts to predict a sudden decline for Minnesota in September.

“This season, I think it’s fair to expect more from the Vikings defense — which was very, very bad in 2022. The unit ranked in the bottom five in points allowed per game, yards allowed per game, passing yards allowed per game and yards allowed per play in 2022. With Brian Flores at the helm and a couple additions like pass rusher Marcus Davenport and third-round cornerback Mekhi Blackmon, I’m expecting some improvement,” Dajani continued.

Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Marcus Davenport addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center. Davenport joined the Vikings in March of 2023 after four seasons with the New Orleans Saints.

Minnesota is banking on Flores to ‘do more with less’ after the club said sayonara to prominent defensive players like Eric Kendricks, Dalvin Tomlinson, Patrick Peterson, Za’Darius Smith, and Duke Shelley, among others, in the last six months.

Dajani concluded, “A team that went 13-4 with a first-year head coach and terrible defense is +300 to repeat as division champions? I don’t think the Vikings will win 13 games again, but there’s clear value here.”

There is indeed value in the bet, especially because the aforementioned Rodgers plays in the AFC East nowadays — and Detroit has been prematurely crowned as the new NFC North king.

Minnesota won 13 games with a defense that ranked 27th in DVOA, 30th in points allowed, and 31st in yards allowed. If Flores can prop the group up to about the middle of the business per defensive ranking, the oft-mentioned Vikings regression may not really happen at all.

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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