This Is When You’ll Know the Vikings Are Good. For Real Good.

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In the last five seasons, the Minnesota Vikings are the NFL’s 13th-best franchise per win percentage, firing up a 45-38 (.542) record since 2019, with two playoff trips and one solitary postseason triumph.

This Is When You’ll Know the Vikings Are Good. For Real Good.

The franchise flipped the script this offseason, telling Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter goodbye via free agency while onboarding newcomers like quarterback J.J. McCarthy, EDGE rushers Dallas Turner, Jonathan Greenard, and Andrew Van Ginkel, plus running back Aaron Jones, among others.

So a new era awaits, with the NFL’s regular season 100 days away.

And here’s when you’ll know the Vikings are good — like, for real good. It’s a simple two-point test.

1. Finally Crushing an Opponent

The Vikings have not defeated an opponent by 17 points or more since December 2019. The drought is nasty. The last time occurred on the road versus the Los Angeles Chargers — five years ago — with a win over Philip Rivers’ team, 39-10.

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Since that day, Minnesota has crushed zero opponents despite conducting an otherwise respectable win-loss record. The team, amid the last five seasons, either was not designed or didn’t have the juice to step on opponents’ throats. In fact, in the last two seasons, 25 Vikings games have been decided by one score or less — or 74%. Nearly every Vikings game goes down to the wire, at least as of late.

Furthermore, in the last five years, Minnesota has scored 40 points or more in a single game once. That was against the Detroit Lions in October 2019, a 42-30 win at U.S. Bank Stadium. Kirk Cousins cooked that day, to the tune of four passing touchdowns, and then that was it for 40-point games. None since.

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You’ll be able to tell “the Vikings are back” when they begin beating the pants off some opponents, which will probably coincide with scoring 40 points once in a while. In the last half-decade, Minnesota basically does neither.

For context, the Dallas Cowboys, a 50-33 (.602) club since 2019, has scored 40+ points in games on 18 occasions. Minnesota is stuck on one.

2. Winning Primetime Games on the Road

This problem far exceeds “the last five years.”

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In the last 20 years, Minnesota is 11-27 (.289) in road primetime games. That ranks 26th in the NFL since 2004, also known as seventh-worst. Of course, there is nothing definitively magical about winning primetime games away from U.S. Bank Stadium, but it’s a decent test to portray the club’s overall standing.

Minnesota’s woes have recently been framed as a “Kirk Cousins problem,” but in reality, primetime struggles are a Vikings thing — not Cousins personally. It’s just that Cousins did little to end the doldrums.

Christian Darrisaw
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Here’s the stat to understand it:

Vikings Win Percentage,
NFL Ranking,
Last 20 Years:

Overall: 12th
Road Primetime: 26th

This is the easiest way to digest it: as a Vikings fan, do you know how you’ll see “at Philadelphia on Monday Night Football” on the schedule, and you chalk that up as an automatic loss? Well, whenever that feeling goes away, you’ll know Minnesota is good-good and legitimate.


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 MIN 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 OverTheCap.com.

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