E Point Perfect

Vikings History Says Team Poised for Deep Playoff Run


Vikings History Says Team Poised for Deep Playoff Run
Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

While the fate of the 2022 Minnesota Vikings season is undetermined, good things happen to the franchise when it starts a season with a 10-2 record or better.

In fact, it’s been 47 years since the Vikings began a season 10-2 or setter and didn’t reach the NFC title game.

The Vikings jumped out to a 20-3 lead over the New York Jets in Week 13, effectuated a mini-collapse, and then hung on to win 27-22 at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday.

Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

These are the 2022 Vikings — refusing to win a game by more than one score — so it’s time to accept the pattern. Kevin O’Connell’s team seems incapable of stomping on an opponent, and the beholder must decide if that’s a good or bad thing with the playoffs just a month away.

But there are omens.

Minnesota has now started regular seasons with a 10-2 or better record nine times since inception in 1961. Folks don’t know how this rollercoaster will end, but the previous eight seasons wound up with an NFC Championship appearance or better six times:

Past Outcomes with Vikings Starts to Seasons of 10-2 or Better:

2017: Reached NFC Championship
2009: Reached NFC Championship
2000: Reached NFC Championship
1998: Reached NFC Championship
1975: Reached Divisional Round
1973: Reached Super Bowl
1970: Reached Divisional Round
1969: Reached Super Bowl

The Vikings Road to 10-2 Has Them Battle Tested for Playoff Football
Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Meanwhile, a few quirky things are occurring, especially for a 10-2 team with the NFL’s second-best record. Foremost, Minnesota ranks 31st in the NFL per yards allowed to opponents. If one believes in the efficacy of yards-allowed as a sane defensive metric, then the Vikings are 10-2 with the league’s second-worst defense. And that’s while boasting an offense that is decent but not gangbusters — like the 1998 or 2009 seasons.

Also, only one team in NFL history has eventually won a Super Bowl will a worse point differential through 12 games than the 2022 Vikings. That was the 2011 New York Giants, who were 6-6 at this time 12 years ago. Right now, Minnesota has collectively outscored opponents by 10 points — yes, 10 points with a 10-2 record. The 2011 Giants were .500 at this time on the calendar and were underwater by -28 points.

The Vikings will have favorable playoff seeding and host one or two home playoff games. Historically when the franchise is “this good” through 12 games, it does damage in the postseason. Statistically, however, Minnesota really doesn’t do anything great — besides win close games.

We shall see what gives in January.

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).


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