What Should the Vikings Early Expectations Be for 2023?

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Jan 1, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell greets players during warmups prior to the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

NFL free agency just started nearly two weeks ago. The draft is still a month away, and training camp is four months away. Because of that, it is far too early to determine how good or bad any team will be during the season. The league is very unpredictable, too, especially given how many injuries happen in this game.

Speculating how each team will do this upcoming season is still fun.

The Minnesota Vikings are coming off a 13-4 season. They won the NFC North for only the third time since the 2009 season. It was a very exciting and memorable regular season under head coach Kevin O’Connell in year one. However, they were one-and-done in the first round of the playoffs.

What Should the Vikings Early Expectations Be for 2023?

Despite their 13-4 record, they were not an elite team. Good team, yes, and improved, but not elite. They made some clutch plays to finish out games but still did not look as good as their record overall.

At the moment, though, what should the expectations be for the 2023 Vikings?

early expectations
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell looks on during the third quarter against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

They should be a playoff team once again. Minnesota should be in contention for the division again, but repeating 13 wins will be difficult. At the moment, the Detroit Lions should be the favorites to win the North, given how much young talent they have and how they finished the season (9-8 after starting 1-6).

Detroit has also produced a good offseason, including signing cornerback Cameron Sutton and running back David Montgomery.

Many Vikings fans will say, “they are the Lions.” Yes, the Lions have not won the division since 1993 (NFC Central at the time) and have not won a playoff game since 1991 (the previous one came in 1957), so it is understandable why many may not take them seriously. Droughts end in sports all the time, though. It is certainly not a done deal that the Lions will win the division, but they should be considered the favorites at the moment.

Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) warms up before the game against the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings have had a decent offseason so far. They signed TE Josh Oliver, OLB Marcus Davenport, and CB Byron Murphy. Dean Lowry won’t start but will still help the defensive line. They also re-signed Harrison Smith.

Minnesota also lost Patrick Peterson, Eric Kendricks, and Adam Thielen. Yes, all are declining, but all were starters. They still need a No. 2 wide receiver to replace Thielen. Even if K.J. Osborn becomes a legit WR2, they could still use another wide receiver.

Losing Dalvin Tomlinson will also hurt. Murphy is a good replacement for Peterson, but they still need more cornerbacks.

Adding Brian Flores as the defensive coordinator will certainly help. More defensive talent is necessary, though. You can argue that Flores is the team’s biggest addition to the organization this offseason.

A lot can still change, of course, until September and during the whole season. Many expected the Green Bay Packers to win the division last season. Some did not even expect the Vikings to make it to the playoffs. The Philadelphia Eagles were a huge surprise last season under second-year head coach Nick Sirianni.

Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) warms up before the game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Za’Darius Smith and Dalvin Cook are still on the roster, but it will be a surprise if both are still on the roster come September, especially Smith. The Vikings added Davenport, so it is hard to imagine Smith will be back. Cook is on the decline and is due $14.1 million this year per cap hit.

Whether this team gets into the playoffs as a wild card or division winner again, they should be in the playoffs barring major injuries, and could advance in the playoffs. Will they be Super Bowl contenders? That is not looking fruitful at the moment.

Again, surprises happen a lot in this league, but it is hard to see the Vikings as Super Bowl contenders this year unless they have an absolutely incredible draft and add another good free agent signing or two.

The Vikings had plenty of bounces going their way last season. It’s hard to imagine they will have as many this year.

It will be rather interesting to see how this team looks in September. What else does Kwesi Adofo-Mensah have planned until then? Fans are very anxious to find out.