Pegs Vikings for Lowly NFC North Finish

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins speaks before a joint practice with the Tennessee Titans in Eagan, Minn., Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023. © Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Minnesota Vikings finished the 2022 season with a 13-4 record under a first-year head coach.

One might think that inspired praise or excitement for the future among the who’s who of football analysis, but it absolutely did not. Pegs Vikings for Lowly NFC North Finish

The Vikings somehow became one of the first teams in NFL history where wins did not matter, and instead, folks chalked Minnesota’s fancy division title up to luck and called it a fluke.

That’s where we’re at with the 2023 Vikings now, too, as oddsmakers predict Minnesota to win eight or nine games this season.

Lowly NFC North
Nov 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell looks on prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports. is the latest entity to predict an underwhelming 2023 campaign for the Vikings, choosing the Detroit Lions to win the NFC North, the Green Bay Packers apparently second, Minnesota at third, and the Chicago Bears in the basement.

Twenty personalities forecasted the Lions to win the division, nine for Green Bay, three for the Vikings, and two believing in the Bears to go from rags to riches in a single offseason.

Bold Prediction for
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) dives for the end zone as New York Giants cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (22) defends during the first quarter of a wild card game at U.S. Bank Stadium. The call on the field was a touchdown but was changed after review. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.’s Marcas Grant explained his Lions theory, “Last season, the Lions adopted Dan Campbell’s feisty attitude and nearly made the playoffs. This season, with a just a little bit of defense and an Aaron Rodgers-sized void in Green Bay, they can finally restore the roar in Detroit.”

Detroit is the trendy pick to win the NFC North — by an overwhelming amount of pundits. Because the Lions prevented the Packers from reaching the postseason in 2022 and because they appeared on HBO’s Hard Knocks, folks believe they have a front-row seat to the Lions emergence. Perhaps they are correct. We shall see.

Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) celebrates the win after the game against the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings have one tactic to avoid a third-place finish, and it isn’t complicated. It’s defense. Somehow, the club won 13 games in Kevin O’Connell’s first season with a defense that ranked 30th in points allowed and 31st in yards allowed. Accordingly, 2022 defensive coordinator Ed Donatell was dismissed four days after the playoff loss to the New York Giants, and Minnesota hired Brian Flores in February.

Flores will be asked to “do more with less,” as the Vikings said goodbye to experienced-but-expensive veteran defenders like Eric Kendricks, Za’Darius Smith, Patrick Peterson, and Dalvin Tomlinson in the last six months.

Vikings to Showcase
Minnesota Vikings Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center. Flores was hired in February 2023 to take over for Ed Donatel after Minnesota finished 30th in points allowed.

If the Vikings can nudge the defensive performance closer to the middle of the pack not the bottom tier like 2022 they can contend for another division crown.

Otherwise, and others may be correct about second or third place.

The Vikings kick off the regular season in 10 days at home versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and are expected to win by 6.5 points.

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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