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Minnesota Vikings Last Season’s Performance

The 2022 season was a successful one for the Vikings, as they won the NFC North for the first time since 2016 with a 13-4 record. It was also Minnesota’s strongest start since 2009, as it opened with an 8-1 mark.

However, the Vikings’ wins didn’t come easily, as 11 of their 13 were by one score while three of the four losses were blowouts, resulting in a -3 point differential at the end of the season. And, despite the strong regular season, it didn’t extend into the postseason, as Minnesota lost in the Wild-Card Round to the Giants. It was its only one-score loss.

Minnesota Vikings Key Additions

The Vikings made a few moves in the free-agency period, with the majority coming on defense.

Minnesota added to the secondary with cornerbacks Byron MurphyJr. and Joejuan Williams, while defensive end Dean Lowry and linebackers Marcus Davenport and Troy Reeder all join up front. Murphy headlines the group after finishing the last two seasons with 100 total tackles and four interceptions. Lowry, Davenport and Reeder combined for 83 total tackles and one sack last season.

The Vikings’ greater additions come in the 2023 draft class, where wide receiver Jordan Addison headlines the group that also includes cornerback Mekhi Blackmon and a late-round addition in running back DeWayne McBride. Addison should start right away while McBride could compete for playing time as well.

Minnesota Vikings Key Subtractions

Minnesota said goodbye to a number of players following the 2022 season, However no two were quite as big as running back Dalvin Cook and wide receiver Adam Thielen. Cook was released after he led the Vikings in rushing yards the past four years, finishing with over 1,000 yards rushing in each.

Thielen went to Carolina after nine seasons with the team, finishing with 6,682 yards and 55 touchdowns.

Tight end Irv Smith Jr. was the only other departure on offense, though many losses came on defense, particularly in the secondary. Minnesota moved on from cornerbacks Kris Boyd, Cam Dantzler, Patrick Peterson, Chandon Sullivan and Duke Shelley, with Peterson being the biggest loss after he led the team with five interceptions last season.

Finally, linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Eric Kendricks and defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson all found new teams as well. Smith and Tomlinson were only with the Vikings for one and two years respectively, but Kendricks’ eight years in Minnesota resulted in 919 total tackles, 15 sacks and nine interceptions.

Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Analysis

The Vikings had their first season under new head coach Kevin O’Connell in 2022, and it was a largely successful endeavor as they finished first in the division.

After spending his previous two years as an offensive coordinator, O’Connell brought that offensive mindset to Minnesota, helping the Vikings finish in the top 10 in both total yardage and scoring, averaging 361.5 total yards and 24.9 points a game.

Now returning in his second year, O’Connell will look to continue that success, though likely without as many one-score wins as Minnesota had last season with an improvement to its defense.

Minnesota Vikings Injured Players at the Beginning of the Season

Minnesota got lucky when it came to injuries last season, as not many players were hit with the injury bug. It appears they are fortunate to start the 2023 season largely unscathed as well, with just three on the injured list.

Guard Chris Reed is on the non-injury football list and rookie linebacker Andre Carter was placed on the physically unable to perform list, but offensive tackle Brian O’Neill is the only remaining player questionable for Week 1 with an Achilles injury.

Infographic NFL Vikings
Infographic NFL Vikings

Minnesota Vikings Offense

Minnesota had one of the best offenses in 2022 under O’Connell, and despite its rushing leader in Cook eventually being on a different team come 2023, much of the Vikings’ offensive success came in the air.

The Vikings were sixth in the NFL last season in passing yards, averaging 263.8 yards a game, while their rushing offense was fifth-worst, averaging 96.6 yards a game. A large part of Minnesota’s success in the passing game was wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who led the team with 1,809 receiving yards and eight touchdowns for his second straight season with over 1,000 yards receiving.

Cousins did enough to get the job done. The offensive line struggled to protect him, allowing 46 sacks. The focus will likely be on the passing game again in 2023 with the departure of Cook and strong play of Jefferson, but the line will have to do a better job at protecting Cousins.

Minnesota Vikings Defense

Though the Vikings’ offense was one of the best last year, their defense was one of the worst, finishing in the bottom three in both total yards and points allowed, giving up 388.6 yards and 25.1 points a game, leading to so many close games.

Minnesota had an especially tough time in the passing game, with its 265.6 passing yards allowed the second-worst in the league, resulting in an overhaul in the secondary in the hopes of an improvement in 2023.

The Vikings also hired a new defensive coordinator in Brian Flores, who spent last season as Pittsburgh’s senior defensive assistant after being Miami’s head coach the two years prior. During his time in Pittsburgh, Flores led a defense that finished first in rushing touchdowns allowed with seven and sixth in completion percentage allowed at 61.3%, and he should bring that defensive success to a struggling Minnesota unit.

Minnesota Vikings Special Teams

Kicker Greg Joseph and punter Ryan Wright spent the season as Minnesota’s special teams players and look to have held down those spots for 2023 as well. Joseph struggled last season, finishing 26-for-33 on field goals and 40-for-46 on extra points, so Minnesota bringing in some competition wouldn’t be surprising.

Running back Kene Nwangwu took all kick return duties last season, returning one for a touchdown, while wide receiver Jalen Reagor did the same for punt return. With both still on the team, they’re likely to have their respective jobs in 2023 as well.

Minnesota Vikings Prediction for the 2023 Season

The Vikings got lucky in a lot of their games last season, leading some NFL expert picks to believe they will regress in 2023.

Though Minnesota’s offense should largely stay the same with its reliance on the passing game and Jefferson and the addition of Addison, how well the Vikings do depends on their defense.

To compete for the NFC North, Minnesota will have to find a way to stop a stout Detroit offense, and though no one knows how well Green Bay will be, the Packers have a solid young group of receivers. Minnesota should be competing for a second-place finish in the division, which is right where NFL picks have it.

Minnesota Vikings Final Thoughts

The 2022 season turned out better than many people likely expected under a new head coach and general manager, but there is room for improvement.

A number of Minnesota’s wins last season could have gone either way due to its disappointing defense, but the play of Cousins and Jefferson helped salvage a good number of those games. Cousins may be in his last year with the team, taking his game-saving antics with him, so Flores and the revamped secondary will have to figure it out this season before they’ll be relied upon with a possible new, young quarterback under center in 2024.

Denver Broncos FAQs

Is Kirk Cousins an MVP-caliber quarterback?

The answer to this question depends on who you ask, but NFL odds had him in the MVP race with how he played last year, leading the Vikings on eight game-winning drives, so the argument could be made that he is.

Who’s the greatest player to ever play for the Minnesota Vikings?

This answer is also subjective and could depend on the age of the person you ask, but quarterback Fran Tarkenton, wide receiver Randy Moss and defensive tackle Alan Page are all some of the greats who played for Minnesota.

Are Vikings fans the most loyal in the NFL?

Almost any fan base will think they are the most loyal in the NFL, but with four Super Bowl appearances and nothing to show for it, Minnesota has some loyal fans.

Will the Vikings repeat as NFC North champions?

Minnesota will likely compete for the divisional title, however with the improvements Detroit has made, many NFL predictions believe the Lions will win the NFC North.