The Minnesota Vikings certainly didn’t “limp into the playoffs” or anything of the ilk. How can a team with a 13-4 record pull that off?
The Vikings lost to the Green Bay Packers in Week 17 in a game that could’ve come close to eliminating Green Bay from postseason contention. But the Detroit Lions took care of that task one week later. Meanwhile, Minnesota righted the ship in Chicago on Sunday, defeating the Bears after Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell played starters in the 1st Half with hopes of erasing the sour taste from the Green Bay loss. The plan worked.
Vikings ‘Playoff Power Ranking’ Isn’t Very Flattering
Now, Minnesota embarks on the playoffs for the first time since 2019, squaring off against the New York Giants on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings are early three-point favorites to ixnay Brian Daboll’s team from the postseason.
But left up NFL pundits, the Vikings are considered one of the weakest teams entering the dance. Such a classification was predictable because Minnesota struggled to beat any opponent with ease and actually fired up a perfect 11-0 record in one-score games during 2022. The Vikings were — and perhaps are — close-game savants.
That doesn’t move the needle for Sporting News, though, who tabbed the Vikings as the 10th-best team entering the postseason. Sporting News‘ Vinnie Iyer plopped Minnesota in the No. 10 spot with this explanation, “The Vikings (+3000) needed until Week 18 against a shell of a Bears team to get their first blowout victory since Week 1. They have overcome a terrible scoring defense with the required offensive points, going 11-0 in one-possession games.”
“They’re battle-tested in the first season under offensive-minded Kevin O’Connell, but it doesn’t bode well the Eagles and Cowboys were among the teams that routed them. The Vikings are volatile right from the wild-card round,” Iyer concluded.
Teams labeled better than the Vikings? Jacksonville Jaguars, Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, etc.
Of all 13-win teams in NFL history, the Vikings underwater point differential is the first of its kind:
- 2022 Vikings = -3
- 2019 Packers = +63
- 1999 Titans = +68
- 2021 Packers = +79
- 1999 Colts = +90
- 2017 Steelers = +98
- 1981 49ers = +107
By the numbers, the Vikings are the worst 13-win team ever, whether adjudicated by point differential (see above) or Football Outsiders‘ DVOA metric. With the regular season in the books, the DVOA stat called Minnesota the sixth-worst team in football this season — a mind-boggling stat for a team inhabiting a three-seed in the postseason.
So, Vikings fans are in familiar territory from the last couple of months. Do the numbers matter? Are terrible point-differential metrics or DVOA stats predictive indicators that the Vikings are about to flop in the postseason? Or is the 11-0 record in one-score games just on-the-job training for the postseason?
NFL pundits are already leaning into the former.
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).