Just how good are the Minnesota Vikings? It’s a matter of perspective, but enough to have NFC North opponents running for the hills.
In a league with 32 teams, sometimes it’s easy to bury the lede a little.
The Eagles are dominating headlines as the NFL’s last undefeated team, and rightly so. Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills just destroyed Aaron Rodgers’ Packers, and it’s getting all the Sunday Night Football glory it deserves.
But what about the 6-1 Minnesota Vikings?
Somehow, there’s more talk about the frenzied 3-5 Packers than there is about Kirk Cousins’ quiet transformation from air-balling in losses to balling out in wins. The Vikings wrapped up Week 8 with a 34-26 score over the Arizona Cardinals, proof that the Vikings can get the yards and the win. Cousins even rolled out his wheels on Sunday, scrambling for a rushing touchdown.
Cousins didn’t even have his most spectacular day passing-wise, completing 24 of 36 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns, but the Vikings offense is dynamic this year. Dalvin Cook rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown, while Alexander Mattison made the most of five carries with 40 yards and a touchdown. Plus, Cousins spread the ball around with his receivers, targeting Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen rather evenly. It marks another impressive win in an unexpected season, advancing a stat that Cousins owns exclusively.
But the question remains: just how good are the Minnesota Vikings? Truthfully, the real answer will only be derived in the postseason, which the Vikings have a 96 percent chance of making at this point. But other statistical predictions are rather telling: both the Kansas City Chiefs and the Dallas Cowboys have nearly double the chance of winning the Super Bowl despite inferior records.
The Minnesota Vikings may be the NFL’s most underrated team, but for good reason
NFL Network’s Jim Trotter explored this question at length in a column published after Green Bay’s brutal loss.
As Trotter succinctly put it, the 2022 Vikings “have been good, not great.”
It’s true: the Vikings are facing similar criticisms to what the surging NFC East teams have faced in recent weeks. Yes, the Eagles are undefeated, and that does deserve to be commended, but they and the Giants and Cowboys are all playing each other, too. Even the Commanders are 4-4. A quick look at the schedules sheds some light on how that division looks to claim three playoff spots.
The Vikings are not so different. Their only loss was a 24-7 blowout to the Eagles, but it was a different team than the one that embarrassed the Packers in Week 1. The Vikings haven’t had the toughest opponents, and most of their games have ended within one score. For all of Jefferson’s impressive yardage and Cousins’ improvements, the Vikings still seem precariously close to losing.
A truer test of their mettle will be in Week 10 when Minnesota takes on the Buffalo Bills. The Vikings are all but guaranteed to win the NFC North and push their playoff luck in the postseason. But to move it along further and finally win that coveted Lombardi, they’ll need to come together and prove they’re not good — they’re great.