We move right along in our team previews, turning our attention to the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota will look to repeat as NFC North champions, but the Vikes' path figures to be more challenging in 2023.
Minnesota went 13-4 last year, clinching the NFC's third seed. However, the Vikings were incredibly fortunate to be on the right side of one-score games, winning 11 games by eight points or less.
The Vikings then lost in the Wild Card Round to the New York Giants, 31-24. As we head into 2023, some regression feels likely for a team that performed so well in one-score games.
Griffin Carroll's 2023 NFL season betting previews
Yardbarker's Griffin Carroll goes team-by-team to bring you the best in futures values for the 2023 NFL season. How will your favorite teams and players fare? Should you bet big, or just a sprinkle? Don't miss a single day!
Kirk Cousins remains at quarterback, the beacon of average quarterback play in the NFL. The offense figures to once again run through Justin Jefferson, who won Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2022 following his 128 catch, 1,809 yards season.
The passing game figures to remain at the forefront, especially after the release of Pro Bowl running back Dalvin Cook. Adam Thielen is gone, but the team drafted WR Jordan Addison in the first round, and KJ Osborn and TE TJ Hockenson round out one of the better pass-catching groups in the league.
The defense had their issues in the secondary in 2022, often picked on deep for explosive passing plays. EDGE Danielle Hunter is likely the team's most impactful defender, and the Browns poached some of Minnesota's best defensive linemen, taking both Za'Darius Smith and Dalvin Tomlinson away this offseason.
Gone is Patrick Peterson, who was tied for the team lead in interceptions with five, opening more questions than answers for this coverage unit.
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The close games we alluded to above are reason enough to consider fading Minnesota this season. The Vikings owned a minus-3-point differential on the season, the second-worst mark of all NFL playoff teams and worse than two teams that missed out on the postseason.
Historically, teams that made the playoffs with a negative point differential miss out on the postseason the following year. The last nine teams to secure a postseason berth with a negative point differential all missed out on the big dance the following year, averaging just 6.8 wins per season.
The Lions figure as one of the divisional favorites at the moment, and the Bears should also be more competitive. There's even reason to feel OK about the Packers, even with the unknown that is Jordan Love.
With a first-place schedule and an NFC North that could be challenging, join us on the fade-Minnesota train.
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This isn't much of a bold take, but if I'm hitching my wagon to anyone on Minnesota, it has to be Justin Jefferson, of course.
Jefferson led the NFL in receptions, targets and yards in 2022, and that doesn't figure to change much even with a rookie first-round WR opposite him.
Since entering the NFL three seasons ago, Jefferson has been nothing short but one of the league's best receivers. He has hit 1,400 yards or more in all three seasons, including back-to-back years with 1,600+. We'll gladly take a share of him here to exceed 1350.5.
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