The video game Madden afforded impressive ratings to Minnesota Vikings players like Dalvin Cook, Harrison Smith, and Justin Jefferson, but the EA Sports product is not high on the Vikings as a team in 2022.
Madden released various rankings by position this week, establishing a video-game pecking order for the NFL’s top players. Then, team rankings were announced, and the Vikings were glossed over for esteem.
The Vikings are the league’s 11th-worst team, according to Madden, checking at #22 among all NFL teams. Minnesota has an ’80’ ranking, linking it to franchises like the New England Patriots (81), Washington Commanders (81), and Pittsburgh Steelers (80).
The 11th-worst ranking is unflattering for the Vikings, chiefly because the franchise renewed all-in stakes for the seventh season in a row. Minnesota fired general manager Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer in January, changing pace to youth and analytics with Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell. The new duo analyzed the roster and decided the existing group of players wasn’t too far away from Super Bowl contendership. Therefore, aside from a new draft class and a handful of new free agents, the Vikings 2022 roster is largely similar to the 2021 version.
And for Madden, that ain’t good enough.
Interestingly, though, the game-makers perceive the Vikings as better on defense on offense. Most pundits and fans view the current roster as offense-heavy with names like the aforementioned Cook and Jefferson. Plus, in 2020 and 2021, Minnesota’s defense was the dealbreaker, collapsing in crucial situations time and time again. Mike Zimmer’s final defense ranked 12th in defensive efficiency per EPA/Play but 30th in yards allowed — an odd variance.
The Vikings ranked as follows per Madden:
- Offense = 16th
- Defense = 13th
- Special Teams = 25th
Thankfully for the Vikings sake, the team has the NFL’s 13th-easiest schedule in 2022 per opponents’ wins and losses last year. At this time on the calendar a year ago, Minnesota stared the league’s fifth-toughest schedule in the face. Moreover, O’Connell’s men play in nine home games, seven true road games, and a neutral-site contest against the Saints in London. The takeaway? The schedule isn’t insurmountable if the team turns out to be good.
Just like power rankings after the NFL draft, Madden believes the Vikings are a mid-to-low tier squad heading into a new season. If O’Connell can acclimate to the NFL in a hurry, the Vikings can prove folks wrong in 50 days.
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 Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).