Predicting the Vikings 2024 Season: Game-By-Game

Getting His Madden
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The vast majority of the national media doesn’t consider the Vikings a 2024 playoff team. The NFL Office and the TV networks are not high on the team, as shown by only two prime-time national TV dates. Every team plays once on Thursday night, so there’s only one Monday night game and no Sunday nighters unless the Vikings are flexed late in the season.

Predicting the Vikings 2024 Season: Game-By-Game

Kevin O’Connell probably thinks, “That’s what they thought of us in 2022, and we won 13 games.” Perhaps he’s right, and the Vikings can surprise everyone again.

I think there’s quality coaching led by O’Connell and DC Brian Flores, enough player talent to contend for a playoff spot if injuries don’t disrupt things, the quarterbacks play reasonably well, and some young players develop quickly, starting with first-rounders J.J. McCarthy and Dallas Turner.

Draft Meeting
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The Vikings need to hang in there through a challenging start to the season (five 2023 playoff teams in the first seven weeks, plus the two New York teams on the road, including the Jets game in London). With so many new starters (especially on defense and a new starting quarterback), I see the Vikings improving as the season goes on.  

Here are my post-free agency and draft/pre-training camp game-by-game predictions:

September 8 — At New York Giants: WIN…
The G-Men are coming off a 6-11 disastrous season where they lost QB Daniel Jones to an ACL tear in Week 8. By then, the team was in a tailspin with a bad offensive line, the main culprit, and disharmony on the coaching staff. The Giants wound up allowing a league-high 85 sacks, and the O-line still could be shaky, especially early on, and Jones may need a few weeks to feel comfortable and willing to run on his repaired knee. First-round pick Malik Nabers will be a handful for the Vikings corners, but no Saquon Barkley will help the Vikings.

I think newly extended Justin Jefferson has a big game, Sam Darnold does enough in his return to New York, and the Vikings pass rushers, led by Turner and Jonathan Greenard, have a big day.

September 15 — Home vs. San Francisco: LOSS…
Kirk Cousins played perhaps the best game of his career in an upset win over the 49ers last season. I don’t see a repeat against the defending NFC champs unless Brock Purdy throws a few picks as he did last year in Minnesota, and the Vikings offense has no turnovers. There’s a chance this could be a letdown game for the Niners as they’ll be traveling on a short week after they open at home on Monday night against Aaron Rodgers and the Jets in a highly anticipated game. Close but no cigar for the Purple in this home opener.

2024 Season
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September 22 — Home vs. Houston: LOSS…
It’s a homecoming of sorts for Danielle Hunter and Stefon Diggs as they return to face their former team. Hunter joins 2023 Defensive Rookie of the Year Will Anderson Jr. to form one of the league’s top pass-rushing duos.

That will be a big challenge for the Vikings’ excellent OTs — Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill. Diggs is now last year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, C.J. Stroud’s new target, and the Texans also have two excellent young receivers, Nico Collins and Tank Dell. The Texans made a huge jump from bottom feeders to AFC South champs last season (3-13-1 to 10-7, plus a playoff win over Cleveland). Houston comes off a Sunday night home opener against the Bears. I see this as another close game, but Stroud’s QB edge over Darnold makes the difference.

September 29 — At Green Bay: LOSS…
The Vikings split with the Packers last season, with both teams winning on the road. The loss came late, as Jordan Love was catching fire in the stretch run when he led Green Bay to the playoffs. We know Aaron Jones will be fired up in his return to Titletown as the Vikings’ starting running back (if he’s hopefully healthy at that time). It will be another fun border battle, but I think Love and the Packers will prevail at home.

October 6 — vs. New York Jets in London: WIN…
The Vikings are unbeaten in London (3-0 in regular season and 1-0 in preseason back in 1983 when I was in charge of our team travel early in my career). Darnold gets a shot at his old team, while Rodgers faces a familiar foe in the Vikings. The Jets have an excellent defense, and Jefferson vs. the best corner in the league — Sauce Gardner — will be fun to watch.

I’m not sold that the Jets — who allowed 64 sacks last season, fourth-most — will be good enough on the O-line, which has been a problem spot in recent years. Flores unleashes his pass rushers on Rodgers, Jordan Addison has a big game while “Jets” and Sauce battle to a standstill, and the Vikings stay unbeaten in London and head into the bye week 2-3.

October 20 — Home vs. Detroit: LOSS…
The Lions are a very talented team and I think they have a good chance to be Super Bowl-bound this season. They come to Minnesota after a big game in Dallas and the Vikings will be rested after their bye and have two weeks to prepare for the defending NFC North champs. Perhaps this will mark the return of T.J. Hockenson after six weeks on the injured list, recovering from the ACL injury he sustained on a cheap hit by Lions safety Kerby Joseph last December. Jared Goff, Jahmyr Gibbs, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Sam LaPorta, the NFL’s best O-line, Aidan Hutchinson on D — it’s just too much to handle for the Vikings in 2024.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

October 24 — At Los Angeles Rams: LOSS…
This is a difficult assignment on a short week to travel to the West Coast and face a good Rams team, a 2023 wild card team with visions of challenging the 49ers in the NFC West. If Matthew Stafford is in the lineup and throwing to Cooper Kupp and last year’s star rookie Puka Nacua for this Thursday night game, it will be too much for the Vikings corners. With the Vikings sitting at 2-5 after this game, I think this will be the end of Darnold as the starting QB.

November 3 — Home vs. Indianapolis: WIN…
Vikings fans rejoice as the McCarthy era begins, and the team — especially Jefferson — wants to make sure it’s a good debut for J.J. Second-year Colts QB Anthony Richardson is a terrific athlete and will be a good QB in the league, but the Vikings home crowd makes it tough on him.

November 10 — At Jacksonville: LOSS…
McCarthy faces a tough defensive front seven led by Pro Bowl edge rusher Josh Allen, 2022 first overall pick Travon Walker, and free agent signee Arik Armstead, the excellent former 49er DT. Trevor Lawrence is seeking to rebound from a poor end of last season and the Jaguars want to overtake the Texans in the AFC South. I think this is McCarthy’s first defeat but good things lie ahead.

November 17—At Tennessee: WIN…
In this meeting of my two former teams, I like the Vikings to get a road win as McCarthy outplays Titans second-year QB Will Levis, who faces Flores’ heavy blitz. Tennessee was 6-11 last season, and they no longer have Derrick Henry to bulldoze opponents’ run defense. This will be a nice first road win for McCarthy.

November 24 — At Chicago: LOSS…
I never wanted to see my teams have three in a row on the road and that’s the case here for the Purple as they fall to a much improved Bears team with first overall pick Caleb Williams getting his footing by this Week 12 matchup. He has a terrific group of wide receivers, including D.J. Moore, Keenan Allen, and first-round rookie Rome Odunze. They’ll be too much for the Vikings’ secondary, and the Bears’ defense was much improved last season, so they’ll be a good test for the Vikings’ offense. The good news is McCarthy is making good progress at this juncture, headed into a stretch of home games.

December 1 — Home vs. Arizona: WIN…
The schedule turns friendly with three straight at home, and the Vikings take advantage against a Cardinals team that’s getting better (compared to their dismal 4-13 team last year). The Vikings defense forces three Kyler Murray turnovers and McCarthy makes plays with his arm and legs while the running game churns with big games from Jones and Ty Chandler in a solid victory.

kirk cousins
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December 8 — Home vs. Atlanta: WIN…
It’s surprising the networks didn’t want to showcase this game, which features Cousins’ return to Minnesota. There will be lots of pressure on Kirko in this game, and the defense will get after him. The Atlanta defense is respectable, but I like the Vikings’ receivers, led again by Jefferson, making the difference. A little momentum is now building for the Vikings, who have clawed their way back to 6-7.

December 16 — Home vs. Chicago: WIN…
Monday Night Football hits downtown Minneapolis in a massive game for both teams as they jockey for playoff positioning. The two rookie QBs battle it out, and McCarthy makes several key first downs on scrambles and hits Jefferson for the winning score, while Turner makes a critical sack and forced fumble on Caleb Williams to kill the final Bears drive. The Vikings are back to .500 and in playoff contention.

December 22 — At Seattle: WIN…
The Vikings have lost their last five games at Seattle and haven’t won there since 2006. Most of those defeats were in the Pete Carroll/Russell Wilson era. This is the first time O’Connell and McCarthy have faced the Seahawks as head coach and QB. Minnesota wins a close game with the offense making enough plays and the defense holding down Geno Smith and his receivers. Now the Vikings stand 8-7 and the Packers game is flexed to Sunday night in Minnesota.

December 29—Home vs. Green Bay: WIN…
It’s going to be a down New Year’s Eve in Packerland after McCarthy, Jefferson, Addison, Hockenson, and Jones lead a great night for the offense while Harrison Smith picks off Love to end the game. It’s the surprising Vikings’ fifth straight win. The Packers fall to 10-6 and with this loss, the Lions clinch the division title at 13-3.

t.j. Hockenson
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

January 5 — At Detroit: LOSS…
The Lions are still battling the 49ers for the NFC’s top seed, so Detroit’s feisty coach, Dan Campbell, doesn’t rest any starters, and the Lions win at home to earn that top seed. The Vikings still make the playoffs on tie-breakers, a great achievement in a season that saw them begin 2-5 and go 7-3 in the final 10 games behind their rookie QB, his excellent supporting cast on offense and a defense that gels as the season progresses.

Final result:
Vikings finish the regular season 9-8, make the playoffs as the NFC’s No. 7 seed, and lose at San Francisco in the Wildcard round. 

It may seem like a pipe dream with all of the offseason changes and playing in such a strong division, but I think it’s doable if things break right for a Vikings team that is more talented than most people believe. After all, this is a league where there are always about six new playoff teams every year.   

Jeff Diamond is a former Vikings GM, former Tennessee Titans President and was selected NFL Executive of the Year after the Vikings’ 15-1 season in 1998. He now works for the NFL agent group IFA based in Minneapolis and does other sports consulting and media work along with college/corporate speaking. Follow him and direct message him on Twitter– @jeffdiamondnfl