Vikings Called ‘Bad Football Team with Insane Luck’

Giants DC Has Hilarious Comp for Kevin O'Connell
Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Remember the narrative about the Minnesota Vikings as “frauds” throughout the 2022 season? It is alive and well, with fancy new adjectives attached.

Indeed, Minnesota finished 13-4 in head coach Kevin O’Connell’s first season and drove pundits bonkers each week with so many one-score wins. In fact, the Vikings finished 11-0 in one-score games, the best single-season win-loss record for such games in NFL history.

Vikings Called ‘Bad Football Team with Insane Luck’

But according to Football Outsiders, everything about the 2022 team was a mirage. Absolutely everything. FO’s Bryan Knowles published an analysis this week about teams that underachieved, and somehow, Minnesota overachieved via wins and losses but underachieved per FO’s metrics.

Bad Football Team
Nov 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell comes off the field after the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

“The 2022 Vikings were a bad football team with insane luck. Eleven of their 13 wins were one-score victories. They were the first team ever to have a negative point differential and still finish with at least a dozen wins. They excelled in the improbable, inexplicable win,” Knowles groused.

Of course, when Minnesota lost in Round 1 of the postseason to the upstart-but-mediocre New York Giants, national punditry rejoiced because the fraudulent commentary was vindicated.

Knowles continued, “The Vikings won 13 games with only 8.4 Pythagorean wins (15th) and 6.3 estimated wins (28th). Both are the largest difference in modern NFL history between actual wins and projected wins. They had a rabbit’s foot tied to a horseshoe coated in four-leaf clovers.”

All or Nothing on Kirk
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) lines up for a play against the New York Giants during the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

“Kirk Cousins isn’t a quarterback who elevates a roster, but he’s an above-average passer who can utilize legitimate stars such as Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, and Adam Thielen. Sure, there were concerns about depth, and a new head coach always brings question marks, but Minnesota was set up to at least be competitive,” Football Outsiders decried the Vikings quarterback while explaining how Minnesota tunneled its way to an NFC North title.

The final nail in the coffin, to eulogize the Vikings unforeseen 2022 luck, was a series of statistical anomalies, “In actuality, the Vikings ended up with the ninth-lowest DVOA for a playoff team since 1981, so whether or not you consider that ‘competitive’ is a matter of personal opinion. But Minnesota benefitted from tremendous fumble luck, led the league in penalty differential (they netted 242 total yards on penalties), and enjoyed far superior health than their opponents for most of the season.”

Our Staff Prediction for Patriots at Vikings
Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Kris Boyd (29) and linebacker Jordan Hicks (58) celebrate with linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) for recovering a fumble for a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills during the second half at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports.

If the Vikings care at all about Football Outsiders’ autopsy — they don’t — there is good news. The team is in the exact same spot this year as 2022, per experts’ and Vegas’ expectations. Minnesota is slated to win 8.5 games in 2023, per sportsbooks, and that number circulated until late August when the win total nudged to 9 or 9.5 wins.

The Vikings have the chance to “do it all over again” in defying the odds, replicate the “insane luck,” or regress, as FO is sure to forecast if it hasn’t already.

Finally, the Vikings as a “lucky franchise” is rich — and newfound. Most longtime fans would assign totally different verbiage, with memories of Gary Anderson and Blair Walsh dripping in their minds.

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,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by