Being Overlooked Among the Overlooked

Jan 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; A general view of U.S. Bank Stadium as Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) leads the offense during the game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears during the fourth quarter. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

When he was the head coach, Mike Zimmer would commonly make comments about finding motivation from people underestimating him. Kevin O’Connell, the new sheriff in town, hasn’t been as vocal about whether being overlooked motivates him. If it does, then perhaps the PFF article that considers five overlooked teams will be notable.

The NFL season will, without question, feature a team or two that no one saw coming. Very few (if any) would have predicted a Super Bowl appearance for the Bengals. How many anticipated Arizona’s strong start to the season? What about the Eagles snagging a playoff spot? The point, folks, is that football is an unpredictable sport.

Last season’s outcome means very little; teams are focusing in on attaining 2022 success. The PFF article responds by considering teams that will outperform expectations. Part of the goal, according to author Kambui Bomani, is to determine the teams being “underrated by NFL media/fanatics.” According to Bomani, the five teams that have the capacity to rise above the modest offseason assessments are:

1) Eagles
2) Dolphins
3) Colts
4) Ravens
5) Saints

Betting on the Eagles makes some sense, especially given their surprise playoff appearance last season. The Colts, moreover, might end up being sneaky good. They’ve been competitive for these past several seasons, and one could argue that Matt Ryan is the best QB they’ve had since Andrew Luck. The Ravens are an impressive franchise. If their QB stays healthy, they may end up snagging the AFC North.

With all that being said, it’s notable that Minnesota doesn’t crack the list. As far as I can tell, most expect the Vikings to continue hanging out with mediocrity. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell initially generated a lot of optimism, but their decision to bring back most of the roster’s preeminent players has lessened the wider enthusiasm.

Two years ago, the Vikings finished 7-9. Last year, that record went to 8-9. Forced to guess, I’d imagine most football prophets foresee something in the 7-9/9-7 range. Their floor does seem reasonably high. It would be really surprising to see them down in the 4-6 win range. Their ceiling, though, is likely higher than most people believe.

A lot will need to go right for the Vikings to finish with a record that includes double-digit wins, but that’s true of all five teams mentioned in the PFF piece. A step forward from Kirk Cousins, a surprisingly competent OL, a dynamic pair of edge rushers, and some quick growth from young defensive backs could very reasonably lead to a dangerous Vikings team.

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