State of Play in the NFC North: Minnesota Vikings

Stacy Revere/Getty Images

State of Play in the NFC North: Minnesota Vikings


State of Play in the NFC North: Minnesota Vikings


Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Kevin O’Connell’s maiden head coaching season resulted in a divisional title and a playoff spot. After waiting five years for a division title, the Minnesota Vikings ran away with the NFC North crown. However, there was a familiar feeling of emptiness when Minnesota’s season ended. 


Season Record: 13-4

The Vikings walked the one-score tightrope to a 13-4 record in 2022-23. In total, the Vikings won eight one-score games. After struggling under Mike Zimmer, Minnesota displayed plenty of situational smarts and toughness to dig out significant wins. The Vikings were not an elite side; Minnesota ranked 27th in total DVOA. But with some good luck, an MVP-caliber wideout, and intelligent decisions, they rode that to a 13-win season.


Best Win: 33-30 Overtime win over the Buffalo Bills 

Highlighted by Justin Jefferson’s catch of the decade, the Vikings fought back to outlast the Buffalo Bills in an overtime thriller. The game encapsulated Minnesota’s flaws and strengths, as well as their mental toughness. It was a statement win. 

Worst Loss: 3-40 defeat to the Dallas Cowboys 

Billed as a game between NFC contenders, the Dallas Cowboys squashed the Vikings in a 40-3 beat down. The Cowboys ruthlessly exposed Minnesota’s shortcomings, and the defeat provided a foreboding sense for the future. 


Team MVP: Justin Jefferson

Is Justin Jefferson the best player in the NFC? Quite possibly. Jefferson is the only non-quarterback in the MVP race. He enjoyed an exceptional season; Jefferson led the NFL in receptions and yards and added eight touchdowns. Jefferson is a megastar, a unicorn with elite ability. 


Biggest Roster Weakness: Entire defense

The Vikings played an invisible style of defense last season. Their defense was MIA for 18 weeks, and it cost them in their playoff defeat to the New York Giants. Minnesota’s defense finished 27th in defensive DVOA. They were 30th in scoring defense and 31st in yards allowed per game. The Vikings fired coordinator Ed Donatell, and this defense needs a revamp. Some players are aging, while youngsters like Cam Dantzler are not developing enough. 


Biggest Roster Strength: Wide Receiver 

This one was a no-brainer. For as long as Jefferson is a Viking, Minnesota will be potent in the passing game. He also elevates other wide receivers to have better games due to defenses panicking so much about the ex-LSU Tiger. 


Outlook: Unknown 

Did the Minnesota Vikings hit their glass ceiling in 2022? In the Kirk Cousins era, Minnesota has not progressed beyond the Divisional Round. The 2022-23 Vikings were eighth in snap-weighted age. They are an older team, and they look no closer to beating the NFC’s elite. In the two games they played against NFC teams that reached the Divisional Round, the Vikings lost by a combined 64-10. With a young Detroit Lions team flush with picks, and a Chicago Bears team snapping at their heels, have the Vikings missed their chance? Eventually, the rebuild decision will need to be made. 


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