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Minnesota Vikings Team Preview

What is a Power Rating?

Before this Minnesota Vikings team preview begins, it’s important to note the purpose behind power ratings. Like power rankings, power ratings give NFL handicappers a foundational datapoint on every team to prepare for the season. Most handicappers use their power ratings to either determine or support where they would place the lines each week. For the sake of this article, you’ll see that I use a 0-100 power rating model. These ratings are not akin to grade school; a 93 is not an A, and a 47 is not failing. I use a 100-point scale for more nuance and, most importantly, to grade the disparity between NFL teams. Every ten points count as one point of line value. In this case, a team with an 85 rating would be four points better than a team with a 45 rating on a neutral field.

Conversely, power ratings should not be used as biblical truth. They should evolve throughout the season and act as a rubric for your wagers. I use six factors: Coaching, Starting QB, Offense, Defense, Leadership/Chemistry, and Consistency/Toughness. These ratings and write-ups can be beneficial as we navigate the season. However, they are not the final word on where these teams stand. Every game requires unique, holistic research, and every matchup has a confluence of factors to consider when handicapping. Those factors include motivation, schedule spot, rivalry value, weather, injuries, and incentives. Power ratings are best applied as an objective, neutral analysis of a given team so that we’re approaching our wagers with a foundation of knowledge and thoughtful perspective. 

Minnesota Vikings 

Current Projected Win Total: 9

Schedule Difficulty: Medium

Power Rating: 67

The Minnesota Vikings could be a very different team this year, and one reason stands above the others; new head coach Kevin O’Connell. O’Connell comes from the Sean McVay coaching tree, having served as offensive coordinator for the last two seasons with the Los Angeles Rams. We won’t overly speculate on what change O’Connell can bring to Minnesota, but one thing’s for sure – the team in purple needed a change.

Minnesota Vikings Team Preview: Offense

Just ask Justin Jefferson. In his first two seasons, Jefferson maximized his opportunities in a run-first, defense-centric system under ex-coach Mike Zimmer. Jefferson snagged 108 receptions for 1616 yards and 10 TDs in 2021, a year where the Minnesota offense was a disappointing 13th in points per game and 18th in pass play percentage. According to multiple reports, Justin Jefferson is beyond excited about this season under new leadership. O’Connell seems poised to transform the Minnesota offense with creative schemes to maximize their talent. Oh yeah, and reportedly it’ll be a “pass-first” system; open up those floodgates, Kirk!

Even better news for O’Connell: the Vikings have quite the talent to maximize. For my money, Minnesota easily has a top-five offense, at least on paper. Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen are about as sharp a wide receiver duo as any team could hope for. Dalvin Cook, whose 1,159 rushing yards were fifth in the league last season, may not need to run over 300 times in a pass-first offense– not a bad thing for his perseverance. And let’s face it– Kirk Cousins can make all the throws. There’s an intangible that Cousins is missing-namely his poor performances in high-pressure scenarios– but during the regular season, few quarterbacks are as consistently precise. Cousins owns a 67.7% pass completion percentage over the last seven seasons as a starter. Minnesota’s offensive line is average, but developing young talent should mean an overall improvement in 2022. 

Minnesota Vikings Team Preview: Defense

Minnesota’s defense is underwhelming, at best. They ranked 30th in yards allowed per game last season (383.6) and 24th in points per game allowed (25.1), but there is reason for hope. With veteran safety Harrison Smith and linebacker Eric Kendricks leading the defense and pass rusher Danielle Hunter and Za'Darius Smith getting healthy, the defense should be much improved. Both missed significant time last year and are gifted at pressuring the opponent’s QB. If the Vikings can create more resistance and put less pressure on Kirk and the offense, that’s a good thing.

Minnesota starts off their season in brutal fashion. They host the Packers, their arch-rival, at home in Week 1, followed by a trip to Philadelphia to take on the promising Eagles on Monday Night Football. Cousins has a career 2-9 record on Monday Night Football, and both of his wins were against mediocre Bears teams. Since we anticipate the Vikings being 0-2 or at least opening 1-1, I think it’s best to wait until after Week 2 and then pull the trigger on betting the Vikings win total over. You’ll get a better line and/or better value, and their schedule is significantly easier after Week 2. The only exception is a matchup against Buffalo in Week 10. 

We expect the Packers to regress slightly and the Vikings to become more consistent game-to-game with an even more potent offense. That’s a recipe to really love a team entering the 2022 season. Change is good.