Despite adding a new general manager, head coach, about a dozen new free agents, and 10 rookies from the 2022 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings are in the same territory as last year, according to oddsmakers.
Minnesota fell victim to mediocrity during the last two seasons, cataloging a 15-18 (.454) record in 2020 and 2021, the 20th-best win percentage in the NFL. The enterprise was stale, so the Vikings ownership cleaned house at the top. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell were hired to replace Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer.
But the song remains the same per win-total forecast. The Vikings are scheduled to win eight or nine games in 2022, an outlook that would likely land the club at the 7th, 8th, or 9th seed in the NFC — perhaps out of the playoffs for the third year in a row.
And for a first-year head coach, eight or nine wins would ordinarily be commendable — but not for this version of Vikings. Oddly, Adofo-Mensah, the new general manager, didn’t rock the boat via roster construction, instead retaining the big-money players like Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter. Many fans believed Adofo-Mensah’s first order of business would involve trading one or both players.
Adofo-Mensah preferred otherwise, though, re-upping with Cousins through the end of 2023 and essentially leaving Hunter’s contract as-is. Some fans knouted the new boss in the court of public opinion — especially for keeping Cousins, who is a lightning rod for criticism — but, once again, the franchise aspires to contend for the postseason.
And according to Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell, Cousins gives the Vikings the best chance in the “now,” more so than anyone available at quarterback during the last few months. Minnesota was mentioned in the trade rumor mill for Deshaun Watson, but nothing in that arena got off the ground. Adofo-Mensah could have traded Cousins to a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers and then focused on drafting a Kenny Pickett-type in the draft. Alas, Minnesota’s front office scoffed at those ideas and put all eggs in Cousins’ basket for a fifth season.
To shore up the team’s weaknesses, Adofo-Mensah acted tactfully on defense. He signed EDGE rusher Za’Darius Smith to pair with the aforementioned Hunter, Jordan Hicks to join linebacker Eric Kendricks, and Harrison Phillips from the Buffalo Bills to replace Michael Pierce. After that, Adofo-Mensah used the majority of his early draft picks on defensive players like Lewis Cine, Andrew Booth, and Brian Asamoah.
The Vikings ranked 30th in the NFL for yards allowed in 2021.
Minnesota isn’t the only storied franchise with an 8.5-win forecast in 2022. The Las Vegas Raiders, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, and Philadelphia Eagles share an 8.5-win prognosis with the Vikings.
The Vikings season begins at home on September 11th against the Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers’ team is slated to win 11.5 games.
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).