Best Case Scenario Season – Click Here
Realistic Outcome Scenario Season – Click Here
As the off-season progresses, every fan right now hopes to see their team hoisting the Lombardi trophy come February. Some teams have better chances, while other teams are simply hoping to get fans into seats as their team looks to avoid mediocrity for another year. In either sense, a Super Bowl victory is the prize and the goal. For Vikings, fans are split with some believing Minnesota has enough talent to make a significant playoff push while others believe this team will continue their playoffs spiral into the new season. However, in either sense, there are positives to take away from a winning OR losing season.
So, what is Minnesota’s worst-case scenario for the coming campaign? Some might believe that it is going winless or around 2-15 but with a great group of quarterbacks on the way and Caleb Williams on the cusp of declaration, that would be too easy… No, a worst-case scenario shows shades of last season but more prominent. The 2022 Vikings stellar season ended in heartbreak during the Wildcard Weekend but in that, they won 13 games. A majority of those were one possession games but in the upcoming Minnesota nightmare season, the Vikings don’t go winless or near it but instead go about 7-10. How is that the worst case? Let’s break it down.
As a team, Minnesota has done a lot to revamp their defense and give their offense a chance to take the next step into the stratosphere, but it’s (mostly) for not. What was tabbed as one of the best offenses in the league quickly becomes inefficient and lackluster. Though Jefferson is incredible and Hockenson is great, teams focus their attention on them with double coverage and solid defensive gameplans while forcing Osborn and Addison (and the other receivers) to make plays. Sadly, this air raid offense never gets going and no receiver eclipses the 1,000-yard mark. Without Dalvin, opposing defenses are able to disregard the run and play sticky press coverage to disrupt the Vikings offensive scheme. None of Mattison, McBride, and Chandler step forward into a bell cow back, and with the lack of a running game, O’Connell’s offense flounders.
What about the defense in this worst-case scenario? Well, the Vikings defensive struggles actually get solved within Flores’ scheme. In the worst-case scenario, we have a good defense, returning to 2017 form (not fully but closer). As the main strength of the team, the Vikings are only in contention because of their defensive prowess, causing a handful of low-scoring games (Carolina, New Orleans, San Francisco, Las Vegas). To add salt to the wound though, Minnesota fans have to suffer through another one score wins/loses gauntlet, and it does not tip in the Purple and Golds favor like last season. However, Minnesota’s surprise defense leads to a 5-1 record getting scrappy wins against the Eagles, Chargers, and 49ers with their sole loss being the defending Super Bowl champs. In a bold move, Kwesi sends Minnesota’s first round pick (and change) to Las Vegas for Josh Jacobs in an attempt to right the ship. Whereas the Raiders are already well out of playoff contention, Minnesota tries to make a daring push towards a Lombardi trophy. Great, right?
Sadly, Minnesota proceeds to go 3-9 over the last 12 games and misses the playoffs with wins over Atlanta, Las Vegas, and Green Bay. Unfortunately, the defense was good enough for Flores to garner some head coaching interviews and what do you know, Green Bay hires him as their new head coach after they went 3-14. Flores travels to a divisional rival and Green Bay locks up the #1 pick and Caleb Williams, another franchise quarterback, comes in to replace Jordan Love and continue the string of great QB play for the Packers. With a late season collapse, and no sign of progress on contracts for Jefferson, Hockenson, Davenport, or Hunter (and Jacobs in this scenario), the Vikings enter the off-season with little draft capital, no clear answers and a void left by Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores, and many rumors swirling around what’s next. On the bright side though, there is buzz about another Kirk Cousins extension… Well bright side.. Or…. Who knows. As for our other division rivals, Chicago sees Fields take the next step and finally has a 4,000-yard passer en route to the league MVP award. Oh, and the Lions win the Super Bowl to make Minnesota the only team in the NFC North without any hardware.
Maybe it will, maybe it won’t, but this would be the nightmare season Minnesota can hope to avoid in 2023. Can the Vikings repeat as NFC North Champs? Absolutely, but there’s a real possibility the pendulum swings the other direction, and they re-enter purgatory during their competitive rebuild. This team has talent but, in this story, it ends on the worst of notes with no clear future, no first rounder in 2024, a middle of the pack finish, a Diggs-esque standoff with Jefferson, Hockenson, and Hunter, and a stacked NFC North outside of Minnesota to deal with. Oh, and don’t ever ask about the kicking game…