The Vikings Have ‘Sister Team’ in AFC, per Vegas

CBS Sports Flings Vikings up Power Rankings for No Apparent Reason
Aug 27, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Members of the Minnesota Vikings High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

One might think an 8-9 football team springing to a 13-4 record under a first-year head coach the following year would inspire enthusiasm and confidence.

But such is not the case for the 2023 Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings Have ‘Sister Team’ in AFC, per Vegas

Last season, the Minnesota Vikings hired Kevin O’Connell to change the culture and fix the team’s close-game woes, as the 2020 and 2021 seasons were undone by late-game defensive meltdowns.

O’Connell accomplished both tasks.

Vikings HC Acknowledges
Jun 8, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell talks to wide receivers Adam Thielen (left) and Justin Jefferson (right) during mandatory minicamp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

And leading into his inaugural season, his club was forecasted to win 8.5 games; oddsmakers remained unconvinced O’Connell could fix the program in one year. Fast forward to one year later — after the fancy 13-4 record — and Minnesota is in the same boat. Sportsbooks believe the Vikings will regress and win 8.5 games. It’s Groundhog Day for Vikings projections.

Well, on the other side of the NFL, a team lives in Colorado with Minnesota’s exact prognostication — the Denver Broncos.

Sister Team
Aug 27, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) prior to the start of the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

The Broncos and Vikings share Super Bowl odds and win-loss forecasts. There is no deviation.

Broncos 2023 Super Bowl Odds = +4000
Vikings 2023 Super Bowl Odds = +4000

Broncos 2023 Win-Loss Over-Under Odds = +8.5
Vikings 2023 Win-Loss Over-Under Odds = +8.5

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.

The weird part? The franchises conducted markedly different 2022 campaigns. The Broncos were the subject of jokes and Russell Wilson-themed memes due to utterly poor performance. Denver finished 5-12 last year and fired first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett before the season ended.

The Vikings, on the other hand, fired up a mind-boggling win at Buffalo, for example, while wide receiver Justin Jefferson chased history via receiving yards. Ultimately, Minnesota lost at home in the Wildcard Round of the postseason to the New York Giants, a depressing end to an otherwise magnificent opening salvo for the aforementioned O’Connell.

Feb 6, 2023; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton speaks at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

But 2022 win-loss totals are unchangeable — the Vikings won 13 games, and Denver won five. Somehow, six months later, the teams share Vegas odds heading into 2023. The Broncos hired Vikings archrival Sean Payton to right the ship, evidently impressing oddsmakers into believing he will have the special sauce to fix Wilson and make Denver a winner for the first time since 2015.

Minnesota continued its ‘competitive rebuild.’ It fired the defensive coordinator from 2022, hired Brian Flores, said goodbye to expensive and aging veterans like Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook, and Eric Kendricks — and finished by drafting wideout Jordan Addison in Round 1 for the 2023 offense.

from Vikings Rookie
Jordan Addison on first day as a Viking after the team selected him in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. The Vikings chose Addison 23rd on April 27th, 2023, and he’ll immediately vie for a WR2 job next to Justin Jefferson.

In the court of public opinion, the two teams are the same, albeit entering the 2023 regular season from completely dissimilar 2022 paths. Pundits surmise Payton will restore winning ways in Denver, but Minnesota will regress to average under O’Connell in Year Two.

And don’t look now, but the Vikings and Broncos play each other on November 19th at Empower Field at Mile High.

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