Vikings Named a Contender — with a Red Flag

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Heading into a change-filled 2024 season, most NFL pundits don’t consider the Minnesota Vikings a contender or anything of the sort. In fact, Minnesota has around the eighth-worst odds of winning the Super Bowl in February.

Vikings Named a Contender — with a Red Flag

But when CBS Sports sizes up 20 contenders for the 2024 campaign this week, the Vikings made the cut. Cody Benjamin identified each franchise with a reasonable claim to the Lombardi Trophy while tagging a red flag.

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Benjamin cited the Vikings’ quarterback uncertainty and explained the contendership + red flag: “You can’t get more obvious than this, but with journeyman Sam Darnold and rookie J.J. McCarthy competing under center, the one thing Kevin O’Connell’s otherwise elite offense is lacking also happens to the most important thing: a proven, steady hand under center. There may be growing pains regardless.”

On quarterback mystery, well, Minnesota said sayonara to Kirk Cousins this offseason, who promptly signed with the Atlanta Falcons in March.

Soon after — as in mere hours — general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah added Sam Darnold from free agency, a man most assessed as a patchover quarterback. Then, Vikings fans waited six weeks, and Adofo-Mensah drafted Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy, the crown jewel for his Cousins replacement plan.

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In free agency, Minnesota signed defenders Jonathan Greenard (OLB), Andrew Van Ginkel (OLB), Blake Cashman (LB), and Shaquill Griffin (CB), among others. After Darnold on offense, Aaron Jones (RB) joined the purple team.

Another CBS Sports writer was high on the Vikings earlier this month. Jordan Dajani picked Minnesota to exceed its 7.5-win Vegas forecast. Dajani wrote, “What if McCarthy surprises in his rookie season? Minnesota won seven games with four different quarterbacks last year. Plus, the defense improved in my opinion — although we won’t know for sure until we get to September. I see the Vikings as a team who could surprise in 2024.”

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Too,’s Albert Breer recently mentioned Minnesota’s long-term roster setup.

He began by examining the NFL’s lay of the land, “The San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs, the two Super Bowl teams, stick out as easy picks. I still love where the Cincinnati Bengals are, so long as Joe Burrow’s injury luck turns. The Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles have all earned the benefit of the doubt over the years. Jim Harbaugh’s track record and Justin Herbert’s talent would earn the Los Angeles Chargers a spot on the list.”

Then came the Vikings: “The Houston Texans are there for me, too, given the acumen of C.J. Stroud, DeMeco Ryans and Nick Caserio. And if you want one curveball, I really like how the Minnesota Vikings are positioned moving forward.”

Don’t Expect a Gimme as Vikings Host Da Bears
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So, the list of pundits is growing for Vikings-themed enthusiasm. In 10 weeks, fans will figure out if the optimism is warranted when the regular season kicks off. Minnesota travels to New Jersey for a date with the New York Giants on September 8th.

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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