What Should the Vikings’ Expectations Be in 2024?

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Last season, the Minnesota Vikings missed the playoffs for the fourth time in six seasons.

They likely would have made the playoffs if Kirk Cousins had not gone down with an Achilles injury in week eight. Regardless, they still missed the playoffs and finished 7-10. What should the expectations be this season? Could they somehow make the playoffs? They might, but that is not looking very likely at the moment.

What Should the Vikings’ Expectations Be in 2024?

While it was best for both Minnesota and Cousins to move on, his loss will not make them better this year — long-term, very possibly, with the extra cap space, and definitely so if J.J. McCarthy will be very good, especially on a rookie deal. If he even does okay while playing on his rookie deal, it could be huge.

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They did have a nice offseason, adding Aaron Jones, Jonathan Greenard, Andrew Van Ginkel, and Blake Cashman. Dallas Turner could end up having a very good rookie year, perhaps. Realistically, though, this looks like a seven-win team once again. Could they win more and make the playoffs? Again, that can happen. Surprises happen every year in this league.

If this team does, in fact, make the playoffs this year, the defense will be a major reason for that. Last season, they ranked no. 16 overall and could be top-10 this season. This will be Brian Flores’ second season as the defensive coordinator, and while they lost Danielle Hunter and D.J. Wonnum, they also added pieces to the unit.

Harrison Smith is no longer the player he once was but still a good player. Fellow safeties Josh Metellus and Cameron Bynum are coming off their best seasons as pros. Harrison Phillips and Byron Murphy Jr. are still on the roster as well. Although, cornerback is still a question mark after Murphy Jr., Mekhi Blackmon had a good year. Can he take that next step forward? Ivan Pace Jr, impressed many with his play as an undrafted rookie last season.

Sam Darnold could play in every game this season unless he is hurt. It would not be a shock if McCarthy did not play a single snap. If he does, it could be only during blowouts. If Darnold has a good year, maybe Minnesota will re-sign him for one more year. Once it is 2026, Minnesota should make McCarthy the starter no matter what, and it will be a shock if he is still not by then.

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While making the playoffs this year would be very nice for them, fans should not think the season is a bust if they do not. The biggest key for this season is building towards 2025 and beyond. If this team was expected to compete for a championship this season or close to it, they would have made an even bigger effort to keep Cousins. The Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers should once again be better than Minnesota. Maybe Chicago could, too.

Once again, Minnesota will face some pretty good teams. Facing Detroit and Green Bay twice as usual will once again be tough. Home games against the San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans will be very tough, too. San Francisco is coming off a Super Bowl berth, and Houston may be in contention, too, especially with the additions of former Vikings Stefon Diggs and Hunter.

One of the biggest games to watch this season will be at home against Cousins and the Atlanta Falcons in week 14. That will be a tough game to win as well, and it will be interesting to see what kind of reception Cousins gets from the crowd and how he plays against his former team. Another tough game will be on the road against the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday night in week eight.

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Even if this team wins less than seven games this season, fans should not think all is lost going forward. This team has plenty of young talent in Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, Christian Darrisaw, and Pace Jr. Blackmon could also be a good player for years to come if he can keep developing.

T.J. Hockenson and Greenard are both under the age of 30, too. Plenty of cap space next offseason as well. Things change very quickly in this league, too. By 2025 or 2026, Minnesota could perhaps be a Super Bowl contender. Of course, a lot will depend on the quarterback position.

The outlook for this team in 2024 does not look very good. After 2024, though, things could really start to look up for them. There are definitely reasons for optimism regarding this team’s future after this season. Once again, maybe this season could go better than expected.