Vikings’ QB1 Competition Has Official Odds

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports | Nov 18, 2023; College Park, Maryland, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) on the field against the Maryland Terrapins during the first half at SECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports.

It will require an upset.

Vikings’ QB1 Competition Has Official Odds

That’s the word from DraftKings and Action Network on the Minnesota Vikings’ QB1 competition for rookie J.J. McCarthy and his quest to win the job outright over veteran Sam Darnold.

The Carolina Panthers arrive at Wofford College for their 2022 training camp. The team plans to host 12 training camp practices that are free and open to the public. This Saturday July 30, the team will hold the ‘Back Together’ event at Gibbs Stadium at the college. The Panthers’ Sam Darnold talks about working with his fellow players at training camp. © ALEX HICKS JR./SPARTANBURG HERALD-JOURNAL / USA TODAY NETWORK.

McCarthy owns +220 odds to start out of the gate in September — or 31%. Darnold, who most expect will take the baton against the New York Giants on September 8th, is the heavy favorite at -300 or 75%. In March, Minnesota allowed Kirk Cousins to test free agency, and the long-time Vikings quarterback immediately signed with the Atlanta Falcons for four years and $180 million. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah signed Darnold thereafter and drafted McCarthy six weeks later.

CBS SportsJared Dubin wrote about Darnold as the betting frontrunner, “This one surprised me a bit. Darnold got a decent-sized contract this offseason, but the Vikes maneuvered their way up the board for McCarthy, and we have seen a pretty significant sample of Darnold in the NFL at this point and it’s not pretty.”

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The working theory favoring Darnold? He’s never experienced an offensive setup like Minnesota’s, with weaponry like Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, T.J. Hockenson, and Aaron Jones. He’ll also have Kevin O’Connell and former teammate Josh McCown in his corner on the coaching staff.

“Minnesota does have a relatively early (Week 6) bye, though, and it plays tough defenses in San Francisco and the Jets in Weeks 2 and 5, so maybe there is an argument for letting McCarthy sit until Week 7, at which point he can return for a home game against the Lions defense,” Dubin added.

Sam Darnold
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports.

Other rookie quarterback odds resemble McCarthy’s. Drake Maye, who was linked to the Vikings during the pre-draft lead-up, has +200 odds to start Week 1 for the New England Patriots.

The DraftKings and Action Network odds also mirror comments from the aforementioned O’Connell about Minnesota’s QB1 outlook. The skipper said at minicamp in June, “We haven’t had to put out a depth chart or anything like that, but I would say Sam would be the guy I would look to based on the spring he’s had and, really, where he’s at in his career and his quarterback journey, and what he’s been able to do coming in and [hitting] the ground running and taking advantage of the competitive situation.”

Right after the draft, ESPN’s Kevin Seifert mentioned a checklist that would be used in application to McCarthy’s game-readiness. “The Vikings will follow an individualized development plan they created for each of the quarterbacks they considered drafting, one that requires McCarthy to hit specific benchmarks and gives coach Kevin O’Connell full authority to make the timing decision,” Seifert explained on April 26th.

Minnesota Vikings 2024 NFL Draft. Watch as QB J.J. McCarthy addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center on Friday. The Vikings traded up one spot on the draftboard with the New York Jets for McCarthy.

Around the same time, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said about McCarthy’s upcoming development, “A lot of times when we go back over history and say, ‘These quarterbacks have missed,’ there’s a lot of hands that are dirty in that regard. And we’re going to make sure that our hands are clean and give him the best opportunity he can to be the best player he can be in this offense.”

All signs — overwhelmingly — point to Darnold in Week 1, even from sportsbooks.

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