While the summer season brings much enjoyment to the average person, for an NFL fan, it represents a desolate wasteland where Sundays just aren't quite as vibrant as in the autumn months. However, with each passing day, we inch closer to the beginning of the 2023 NFL season, which officially kicks off on September 8 this year.
Whether you've had your favorite team's tweet notifications turned on all summer or if you've decided to tune out all football news entirely, you'll be able to learn everything you need to know about your team going into the 2022-23 season right here.
In today's article, I'll be discussing the Minnesota Vikings.
I'm working on season guidebooks for all 32 NFL teams, which will all be released within the next few weeks. To check out another team's guidebook, click here:
2021 Season Recap
The 2021 season some somewhat of a rollercoaster for Vikings fans, as their team just couldn't seem to string wins together consistently. Their biggest problem was on defense, as five of Minnesota's nine losses came when they surrendered 30-plus points. While they did finish 2nd in the NFC North, the Vikings ultimately missed out on the postseason by one game, bringing their season to yet another disappointing end.
Significant Roster Moves
You'll notice several big names featured among the list of departures from Minnesota's roster this offseason, nearly all of which were on defense. Anthony Barr, Breshaud Breland, Everson Griffin, Sheldon Richardson, and Xavier Woods are just a few guys who will no longer don the Vikings uniform in 2022. This isn't a good sign considering how much the defense struggled in 2021, but Minnesota will hope that additions like Jordan Hicks, Za'Darius Smith, and Harrison Phillips will fill in those roles nicely.
2022 Draft Class
The Vikings had 10 selections in the 2022 draft, and they used them to fill an assortment of positions on the roster. Despite the weakness of last season's defense and the turnover in the roster on that side of the ball, none of the picks the Vikings made this draft have made the starting lineup at this point in the offseason. It's likely that some of them will work their way into the starting rotation at some point, but those that don't will at least serve as much needed depth to a top-heavy roster.
The Vikings will take on the NFC East and the AFC East to go along with their six divisional games. Their other three opponents are the New Orleans Saints, Arizona Cardinals, and Indianapolis Colts. With an opponent prior season win percentage of .484, Minnesota has the 13th easiest schedule in the NFL.
Minnesota's primetime games include one Thursday night game versus New England and one Monday night game at Philadelphia. They will also play in London against New Orleans in Week 4 and on Saturday, Christmas Eve in Week 16.
The Vikings return 16 of their 22 offensive and defensive starters from a season ago, which is about average compared to the rest of the teams in the league. However, the offense remains well intact, as 10 of their 11 starters will be back on that side of the ball. While the defense will feature some fresh faces, given their struggles to prevent points in 2021, that might be a positive.
Kevin O'Connell was hired in the offseason to become the 10th head coach in Vikings franchise history. He brought in his own staff with him, as all three coordinators also enter their first season in their respective roles with Minnesota. It's possible that a new coaching staff will be beneficial to a franchise that has been rather stagnant in recent years.
Oddsmakers have set the regular season win total for Minnesota at 9 games. As of right now, the Vikings are the 2nd most likely team to win the NFC North and the 7th most likely team to win the entire NFC. At +3500 to win the 2023 Super Bowl, Minnesota is 15th among all teams in the league.
Bucket Squad Predictions
I know Kirk Cousins gets a lot of hate in the media, but I actually think his treatment is largely unfair. He seems to be limited by his offensive line at times, and when he does put his team in positions to win, the defense manages to blow them more often than not.
With that being said, I'm not sure if the Vikings will be able to perform that much better in 2022 considering the strength of some of the other teams in the NFC. I think Minnesota will have just another average year and finish just barely on the outside looking in again when playoff time comes around.
What do you think? Will Minnesota be better or worse than I'm projecting? What offseason moves made by the Vikings surprised you the most? Leave a comment down below and be sure to check the "NFL" section of the website for more NFL team guidebooks as I finish them.
Written by Nick Swatson
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Expert Nick Swatson discusses all the news, predictions, and outcomes surrounding the NFL.