History Suggests 10-2 Vikings Should Make Deep Playoff Run…and End Season in Heartbreak

A Cruel Vikings Streak Will Continue if the Eagles Win the Super Bowl
Sep 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) on the sidelines against the Philadelphia Eagles during the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

After defeating the New York Jets, 27-22, last weekend, the Minnesota Vikings record now sits at 10-2 ahead of their rivalry road game against the Detroit Lions. If this season is to go like any others in Minnesota Vikings history, the 10-2 Vikings should make a deep playoff run, but ultimately, the season will end in heartbreaking fashion.

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Overall, there have been 96 NFL teams to start 10-2 (according to Stathead), including these 2022 Vikings. In all, 24 league champions have come from teams that begin seasons with this record, and 88 of them (91.7%) have made the playoffs.

We actually saw a three-year stretch from 2015-2017 where every Super Bowl winner started their seasons 10-2. The 2015 Denver Broncos, 2016 New England Patriots, and 2017 Philadelphia Eagles all began their Super Bowl runs by going 10-2 in their first 12 games.

Overall, this seems to bode well for the Vikings chances this season. In the history of the Minnesota Vikings, five teams have started seasons with a 10-2 record. Those Vikings teams are as follows:

  • 1970 Vikings
  • 1973 Vikings
  • 2000 Vikings
  • 2009 Vikings
  • 2017 Vikings

This list is chock full of some of the teams that are considered to be among the best in Vikings history. It’s hard not to be that sort of team after starting 10-2, but all of them ended their seasons in some of the most heart-wrenching ways.

The heartbreak got started right away with the 1970 Vikings, who finished their 14-game regular season with a 12-2 record, winning 10 of their final 11 games. They were one of the most dominant teams that year, scoring the third-most points during the regular season and allowing the fewest, en route to the best record in the league.

They earned a bye in the Wild Card round, but disaster struck when the San Francisco 49ers came to town in the Divisional round and upset the Vikings, 17-14, on their home turf. Seemingly making matters worse, the 49ers would go on to lose to the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship game. During Week 5 of the regular season, the Vikings had dominated Dallas to the tune of a 54-13 score.

The Vikings first 10-2 team had one of the most dominant regular seasons we’ve ever seen, but they also are the only of the five Minnesota teams to go without a playoff victory. Since then, the Vikings have gone to at least the NFC Championship game, and in 1973, they advanced to their second-ever Super Bowl. They, of course, were no match in that Super Bowl for the Miami Dolphins, losing 24-7.

Since then, the Vikings have seen the 2000, 2009, and 2017 Vikings advance to the NFC Championship game after starting 10-2, only to be eliminated there. 2000 and 2017 have each seen blowout losses in this round for the Minnesota Vikings, suffering a 41-0 defeat in 2000 and a 38-7 loss in 2017.

The 2009 NFC Championship remains perhaps the most heart-wrenching defeat in recent Minnesota Vikings playoff history, though. With Brett Favre at QB, the Vikings had a high-flying offense that scored nearly 30 points per game during the regular season.

That offense led Minnesota to something fans had not really experienced: a dominant playoff victory. During the divisional round, the Vikings defeated the Dallas Cowboys 34-3 and headed into the NFC Championship set to take on the New Orleans Saints.

We all know how that ended as Garrett Hartley nailed a 40-yard field goal in overtime, eliminating the Vikings. The Saints would go on to defeat the Indianapolis Colts in their first ever Super Bowl.

Of course, we still have about a month to go in the 2022 regular season, but the Minnesota Vikings again seem poised to make a deep playoff run this year. So, readers, what do you think? Will this Vikings season end in heartbreak once again, or can Minnesota end their playoff curse?

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.