The Vikings Tied Their Own NFL Record in Week 16

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The story of the Minnesota Vikings for the past few years has been close games.

They have not won a game by three scores since December 2019 when they beat the Los Angeles Chargers 39-10. That means they have now played 70 games without a truly dominant victory.

Following their Week 16 loss to the Detroit Lions, yet another one-possession game, the Vikings have now played 14 games decided by eight points or fewer in 2023. This ties an NFL record with the 1994 New York Giants, 2015 Baltimore Ravens, and, of course, the 2021 Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings Tied Their Own NFL Record

Vikings Tied Their Own NFL Record
Dec 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) looks to pass against the Detroit Lions during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

That 2021 Vikings team finished the year with an 8-9 record, and this year’s iteration of the purple squad seems destined for a similar finish after their 7-8 start to the year.

However, the way these teams have gotten to those 14 one-possession games have differed wildly. The Vikings heavily relied on their offense to keep them in games during the 2021 season while their defense allowed the third-most yards and ninth-most points in the NFL.

This year, it’s been Minnesota’s offense that hasn’t always been up to snuff. The Vikings defense is a top 10 unit in terms of points allowed, but the Vikings offense has averaged just 20.9 points per game, ranking 21st in the league.

Dec 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell celebrates after Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandlers (32) touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

A major factor in that lack of offensive success is the litany of injuries they’ve suffered this season. Kirk Cousins’ Achilles injury is most notable, but Justin Jefferson also missed seven games with a hamstring injury while other contributors like Christian Darrisaw, Alexander Mattison, Brian O’Neill, and K.J. Osborn have missed some time throughout various points of the season.

Then, there’s the turnover problems. Minnesota is one of three teams this year to average two or more turnovers per game, and the four interceptions from Nick Mullens on Sunday certainly contributed to the Vikings’ loss against Detroit.

Ironically, Minnesota’s only contest in 2023 that has been decided by more than eight points came in Week 8 against the Green Bay Packers. The Vikings won that matchup 24-10, but it was dampened by the fact that Kirk Cousins was lost for the year with a torn Achilles. Now, Minnesota will take on those Packers again in Week 17.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Oct 29, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Akayleb Evans (21) tackles Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) during their football game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Wm. Glasheen-USA TODAY Sports

It does seem very likely that the Vikings will set a new NFL record for most one-possession games in a single season, though. Minnesota has two divisional games remaining on their schedule to close out the year against those Packers and the Detroit Lions.

These types of games are always heavily contested regardless of the talent on either sideline, and this year, all three of Detroit, Green Bay, and Minnesota are battling for playoff position on top of the usual bragging rights for beating a divisional opponent.

Hopefully, the Vikings can soundly defeat their final two opponents of the year and sneak into the playoffs, but it will take a complete effort on both sides of the ball to get that done. The final stretch gets started on New Year’s Eve when Minnesota hosts the Packers on Sunday, December 31st at 7:20 PM Central.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.