Are The Vikings True Contenders?
The NFL this season has been an incredible rollercoaster of emotions, teams over-performing and teams falling well short of expectations. The Vikings happen to be one of the teams surpassing their low preseason expectations. The Vikings are currently 9-2, with their only losses coming to the 8-3 Cowboys and the 10-1 Eagles.
Usually, a team that is 10-2 would suggest that they are a team to be reckoned with. I’m not so sure the Vikings are as good as their impressive record suggests. The Vikings have a point differential of -1, which is utterly pathetic for a team with 7 more wins than losses. They win by an average of 6.5 points per game and lose by an average of 27 points per game. Losing by an average of 25 points is a joke, for a team that is supposed to be a Super Bowl contender.
The Vikings have only won one game by more than one score, and that was week 1 against the woeful Packers. If you take away that 16-point victory, the Vikings win by an average of 5.4 points which is even more concerning. The Vikings have won good games, such as a victory against the Bills in week 10, and a victory over the Commanders in week 9. Even though they have these good wins, they have had concerning performances against mediocre teams they should be steam-rolling, such as having to score 14 unanswered to take down the Lions and then losing to them by two scores in their most recent matchup.
The Vikings have had a couple of red flags that have continued to show themselves throughout the past couple of seasons, most notably, Kirk Cousins's inability to perform in prime time. Kirk is a whopping 6-15 combined in Monday and Thursday night games, and 1-3 in playoff games. Kirk doesn’t get it done when the game is on the line.
Another issue the Vikings face is Justin Jefferson’s consistency. Justin Jefferson is an incredible receiver but in games, he has less than 90 yards the Vikings are 1-2. Jefferson being a center-piece of their offense leads to wins, but he has had games where he becomes a non-factor. For example, in the game against The Cowboys in which Trevon Diggs held Jefferson to 3 catches for 33 yards. If The Vikings face a team with an elite cornerback, such as Darius Slay from the Eagles, or the aforementioned Trevon Diggs, The Vikings could struggle mightily.
The Vikings also have a defense that is far from being characterized as elite. Other than edge rushers Zadarius Smith and Danielle Hunter, aging corner Patrick Peterson and an even older Harrison Smith. Outside of those four, the Viking's defense is just mediocre. They let up 24.1 points per game, are 16th in rush yards allowed, and are ranked dead last in passing yards per game allowed. The Viking's offense has been largely dragging along the Viking's defense, especially in games where the Viking's offense doesn’t take off they lose games. If they play a team with high offensive output in the playoffs that would require their offense to keep pace and their defense to get some stops, their odds of winning are near zero. I like the Vikings but I would not call them Super Bowl contenders just yet.