Vikings Win Total Suggests They’re Getting Overlooked

Pretty Wonderful on Tuesday
Oct 16, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Harrison Phillips (97) poses for a photo after a game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports.

A season ago, the Minnesota Vikings ripped off 13 wins during the first season under new head coach Kevin O’Connell. Some of that was unquestionably smoke and mirrors, but the oddsmakers have slighted Minnesota far too much. Setting the over/under win total at just 8.5, it’s fair to believe the Vikings are being overlooked.

Vikings Win Total Suggests They’re Getting Overlooked

Last season the Vikings most notable change came in their leadership from the sidelines. Gone was Mike Zimmer and in was Kevin O’Connell. There were personnel additions and subtractions, and the defense played a new scheme, but it’s hard to suggest anything moved the needle more than a coaching shakeup.

This season the Vikings are in a similar situation. They have moved on from veterans like Adam Thielen and Eric Kendricks, but it’s fair to argue that both could represent addition by subtraction at this point in their careers. Dalvin Cook is also no longer with the team, and while Alexander Mattison may not be ready for a bell-cow role out of the backfield, this offense hasn’t been an issue.

Vikings Win Total
Sep 13, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (25) rushes with the ball in the second half against the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Like a year ago, a massive addition was made on the sidelines for Minnesota. Brian Flores takes over as the defensive coordinator following Ed Donatell’s debacle. The Vikings employed one of the league’s worst defenses a season ago, and bringing in such a well-respected leader can only do positive things for a unit with nowhere to go but up.

When it comes to how many games the Vikings can win, looking at the division seems like a logical place to start. There has been plenty of steam from Detroit suggesting they are the frontrunner in the NFC North, and they have the shortest odds to win the Super Bowl from within that group. Still, as great as Dan Campbell had his offense look, the defense was equally disastrous. Expecting Detroit to take such a massive leap forward and career years to happen again seems like a bit of wishful thinking.

Jan 8, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Kalif Raymond (11) is greeted by Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell following a score during the third quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Rodgers has vacated his place under center for the Green Bay Packers, which immediately puts pressure on the shoulders of new starter Jordan Love. Needing to do more with a group of playmakers designed to do less, Love will have his work cut out for him. In Chicago, Justin Fields has shown a desire to carry the load. While his passing still remains a work in progress, the intention to scramble is not something he has shied away from. Health could be a key there, and even coming on stronger down the stretch, this Bears team needs to prove a biter more before wins can be stacked up in their favor.

Expecting the Vikings to be Super Bowl favorites is a longshot, but repeating as division champions doesn’t seem far-fetched. O’Connell gave those in the locker room an early taste of what winning feels like, and many of those players remain part of a roster that should find an opportunity to win on a weekly basis.

Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell at 2023 mandatory minicamp in Eagan. The Vikings won 13 games in O’Connell’s first season as head coach. He previously won a Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams as offensive coordinator in 2021.

It’s fair to be skeptical about what Minnesota will bring to the table, but the bar to clear for competitiveness doesn’t have to be 13 games. A better defense should remove the need for so many one-score victories, and the Vikings certainly could employ one of the league’s best offenses. Maybe Minnesota doesn’t replicate the win total from a season ago, but being above .500 still seems likely, and they shouldn’t be counted out when it comes to winning the division.

Maybe some of the belief in Detroit and Chicago can be put back into the Vikings. It appears that will be on Minnesota to go out and prove, but winning games isn’t something that should be difficult for this roster, and if they have the opportunity to surprise, so be it.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.