The Minnesota Vikings downed the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday, stamping a ticket to the playoffs with the NFC’s No. 3 seed. Minnesota will host the New York Giants next weekend to kick off the postseason.
And as the postseason is less than a week away, the Vikings are more mysterious than ever as fans try to understand if the team is a contender or a lose-early-in-the-postseason candidate. Most of the NFL body politic views the Vikings as a one- or two-and-done.
But why is the team mysterious? Here you go.
Vikings Enter Postseason More Mysterious Than Ever
No Blow-Out Wins
The Vikings haven’t beaten an opponent by 17+ points in over three years. The last time Minnesota beat a team handily was against the Los Angeles Chargers, 39-10, at StubHub Center in 2019. On Sunday at Chicago, the Vikings nearly blew out a terrible Bears team but pulled starters at halftime.
To their credit, the Vikings are winning one-score games like fiends, tabulating a perfect 11-0 record via one-score games in 2022. Is that a good or bad thing? That is in the eye of the beholder.
Minnesota will be incredibly battle-tested in the playoffs with so many close games during the regular season. Still, shouldn’t the Vikings have defeated some teams with ease? For the most part, they did not, aside from the Green Bay Packers in Week 1.
Throughout the next week, create an opinion about the 2022 Vikings. Is a dazzling record in one-score games an indicator of greatness — or inability to beat anybody handily?
Numbers Suggests Vikings Are a Bad Team
Before Week 18, the Vikings were classified as the league’s fifth-worst team per Football Outsiders‘ DVOA metric. The DVOA stat is described as “measuring a team’s efficiency by comparing success on every single play to a league average based on situation and opponent.”
Per EPA/Play (expected wins added), the Vikings offense ranks 19th in the NFL, and the defense checks in at 18th. Via efficiency metrics, Minnesota is a bad-to-average team that experiences masterful situational football — or just plain luck.
Super Bowl contenders generally finish near the Top 10 for EPA/Play or DVOA is at least one offensive or defensive metric. But not these Vikings.
Again — do the numbers matter? That’s up to you.
If Vikings Win a Super Bowl, Is This Really How It Would Happen?
Find a 12-win or better season in Vikings history where the team’s fans totally walked on eggshells waltzing into the postseason. They don’t really exist.
When the Vikings have tabulated 12+ wins in a season’s past, folks think they’re pretty formidable and a force to be reckoned with. This might even include some chest pounding.
And in those seasons, the Vikings failed to win or reach the Super Bowl. So, maybe this is how the Norse Gods have scripted 2022. Minnesota could be preordained to field the weirdest, luckiest, and most unforeseen team ever to win a championship.
That’s what it could take because virtually no Vikings fan nor national pundit feels supremely confident that Minnesota will play in Super Bowl LVII.
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 Sal Spice. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).