The 10-2 Minnesota Vikings play the 5-7 Detroit Lions this Sunday at Ford Field, and oddly enough, the Vikings are considered underdogs by almost every significant sportsbook. How in the world does a team with a below .500 record have the edge over the team with the 2nd best record in the league?
The Lions are certainly not a poor team, and they have been playing at a much higher level than their 5-7 record reflects, but to be considered the favorite to defeat the 10-win Minnesota Vikings sounds slightly outrageous.
It seems like the only thing that people can talk about when discussing the Minnesota Vikings’ success this season is how “lucky” they have been so far. I can understand how seeing nine one-score victories can make it hard to believe in the Vikings as Super Bowl favorites, but to assert that they are fraudulent at this point in the season seems wrong.
I don’t remember people saying that the Vikings were just an “unlucky” but good team last year after they lost 8 one-score games. At that point, they were just a subpar football team at 8-9 right? But now when they win these challenging one-score games, they aren’t legit? The influx of new leadership ushered in a new culture in Minnesota, and the heightened locker room atmosphere has been leading to heightened on-field output. The players feel more confident and dedicated because the front office and coaching staff have been reflecting the same positive energy.
There have been concerns about Minnesota’s offense this season, another reason they could be seen as less of a threat. And it is obvious that the Vikings’ offense has not yet maximized its potential to this point in the season. Despite Justin Jefferson breaking records weekly – Minnesota has yet to properly utilize all of their weapons in a single game. Players like Dalvin Cook, Adam Theilen, and TJ Hockenson have proven that they have the ability to dominate games, but head coach Kevin O’Connell has not yet been able to rotate the ball in a way that allows multiple playmakers to prosper on a single Sunday.
Minnesota had a great rushing day against the Jets last week but was unable to get Jefferson or Hockenson a large number of attempts. And the opposite was true a week prior against the Patriots, when Jefferson had a great day through the air, but Cook or Hockenson were unable to impact the game in a big way.
The Vikings’ offense has often stalled out in the middle of games this season, and I attribute that to the teams’ inability to put the ball in different hands and get everyone involved. Even players like KJ Osborn, Alexander Mattison, and Jalen Reagor have shown that they have explosive qualities, and if coach O’Connell could find a way to incorporate all of these players into the offense, opposing defenses would have a very hard time countering them.
It would not be an earth-shattering claim to say that the Vikings may not be the second-best team in the NFL despite what their record shows – but to say that they can’t win should be considered criminal