Four Striking Similarities Between The 2017 Vikings and The 2022 Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings are having a remarkable campaign in 2022. The team currently sits at 11-3, having officially clinched the NFC North and holding the second seed in the conference. This team has been highlighted by one-score wins and strong offensive play, and will likely go down as one of the greatest squads in team history when the season is over with.

However, when finding a suitable comparison for the 2022 Vikings, it can be tricky. At first, it appeared this team would be the second coming of the 2009 team- a squad led by a young offensive coach highlighted by their offensive production and excellent defensive line play. As the season has gone on, however, I realized that this team has one truly reasonable comparison.

As mentioned in the title above, these Vikings largely resemble the 2017 squad. You know, the team led by one of the great defenses in Viking history and ended up with a 13-3 season and the division title? You’re probably wondering- how can an offensive-centric squad led by a rookie offensive-minded head coach be compared to a defensive-oriented squad led by a veteran hard-nosed defensive-minded coach?

Buckle up, Viking fans. These teams have more in common than you probably anticipate.

Comparison No. 1: Both Squads Did Not Blow People Out Regularly
We presume the 2022 Vikings to be a squad that can only win by one score, while we assume that the 2017 team was a powerhouse that often dominated competition.

As someone who followed nearly every snap of this team, I can tell you right now- the 2017 Vikings did not blow people out, despite what the scoreboard indicated. Much like this year’s squad, the Vikings often struggled to put away teams until the very end. From Weeks 5-13, they struggled with the following quarterbacks for various long points in games that ended up wins: Mitch Trubisky (Bears), Brett Hundley (Packers, first time around), Joe Flacco (Ravens), DeShone Kizer (Browns), Kirk Cousins (Redskins), and Matt Ryan (Falcons). Those quarterbacks led fairly average to bad teams in 2017, and the Vikings struggled to put those teams away until the fourth quarter.

The 2017 Vikings won five games by one score, but it could have very well been higher if they didn’t close the deal in the fourth quarter. They struggled with the 7-9 Packers (first time around) and 0-16 Browns for large stretches of those games, in addition to the 11-5 Saints and 11-5 Rams. However, it is worth mentioning that the Saints and Rams were division winners that season, so those struggles were much more understandable. In essence, the 2017 Vikings could have had one nine one score wins, one fewer than the 2022 Vikings’ number of ten, had the former squad not put teams away late in games.

Comparison No. 2: The Seasons Began The Exact Same Way
In a pretty freakish way, the 2017 Vikings and the 2022 Vikings have started out the exact same way.

Both teams started the season out 11-3, winning an NFC North division that was particularly dysfunctional that season. Their first win of the season came in convincing fashion against a Hall of Fame quarterback (Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers), and then they played arguably the league’s toughest division that season in their first 14 games (NFC South in 2017, AFC East in 2022). Even two of their losses are the same: losing to a Pennsylvania team on the road by 17 points in their second game of the season (26-9 loss at the Steelers in 2017, 24-7 loss at the Eagles in 2022), and losing to the Detroit Lions.

These two teams also close out the season with games against the Packers and Bears. While the 2017 team got the Packers at Lambeau Field and the Bears at home, the 2022 team gets to close out their season playing both teams on the road.

Fun fact: both the 2017 and 2022 Vikings teams clinched the NFC North in 2017 on Dec. 17 at home against a struggling AFC team (Bengals and Colts). Those AFC teams also clinched losing records on the season after their losses to the Vikings.

Comparison No. 3: Most, If Not All, Top Players On The Strongest Unit Stayed Healthy All Year
One of the top reasons why the Vikings were able to field a top defense in 2017 is because most of their starters stayed healthy for almost, if not all of, 16 games.

On the defensive line, Danielle Hunter and Linval Joseph started all 16 games while Everson Griffen started 15 games. In the linebacking corps, Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr both started all 16 games. To top it all off, the secondary saw Xavier Rhodes, Harrison Smith, and Trae Waynes start all 16 games while Andrew Sendejo started 13. Between the Vikings’ top defensive stars in 2017, they combined to miss only 4 games out of 144 combined starts for all of those players.

Similarly, the Vikings’ top offensive players have mostly stayed healthy. While left tackle Christian Darrisaw had been in and out of the lineup since Week 10 and missed three games, he has been the exception. The offense’s top three notable players in Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook, and Justin Jefferson have been available for and have started every game this season. The same can be said for guard Ezra Cleveland and right tackle Brian O’Neill, while center Garrett Bradbury has missed two games due to back issues.

The main strengths of these two teams, defense in 2017 and offense in 2022, were aided by the fact that most of the top players on that unit stayed healthy for the entirety of that season. That is remarkable health, and is a break that doesn’t come around that often. As we know, lots of teams deal with key injuries to star players, so it was extremely vital to these squads that most of their key players had or have stayed healthy.

Comparison No. 4: The Schedule Worked Out
I know that the Vikings went 4-0 against arguably the toughest division in football, the AFC East, but let’s also be realistic about that. When they faced the division’s two best teams, the Dolphins and the Bills, the Vikings caught really lucky breaks. The Dolphins were missing quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and had to use a combination of Skylar Thompson and Teddy Bridgewater, while the Bills game was truly a “miracle” win for the Vikings as so much had to go right just for them to have a chance at a comeback.

Similarly in 2017, the Vikings played arguably the toughest division in football, the NFC South. That year, the division sent three teams (Saints, Panthers, Falcons) to the playoffs. The Vikings did lose their game at the Panthers, but beat the Saints and Falcons. However, they played in the Saints in Week 1, before they truly became among the league’s elite, and they played the Falcons in a year where Matt Ryan was really clunky and had an off year due to the transition to a new offensive coordinator.

Also of note is that the 2017 Vikings played the dysfunctional AFC North out of conference, and the only good team in that division, the Steelers, hammered them. Similarly, the 2022 Vikings played the kind of dysfunctional NFC East in conference, and got hammered by the only truly good teams in the division, the Eagles and Cowboys.

This comparison between the 2017 Vikings and the 2022 Vikings is not meant to be a shot at the teams themselves. That 2017 team won 13 games and was incredibly fun to watch. Similarly, the 2022 squad is incredibly fun to watch, and ending the year with 13 wins is within reach.

Now the real question with this year’s Vikings squad is this: can they avoid becoming the disappointment that the 2017 team became? As mentioned earlier, that team lost in the NFC Championship, but they then proceeded to pull back to an 8-7-1 record in 2018. Let’s hope that these Vikings can avoid a similar fate to that squad.
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x