Why the Vikings Won’t Hit the Over on 8.5 Wins

Vikings Predictions and Insights for Aaron Rupar
Vikings Helmet

Over the weekend, I laid out the reasons as to why the Minnesota Vikings would hit the over on Vegas’ lukewarm over/under win total for their 2022 season. The oddsmakers have them right down the middle of the road at 8.5. Of course, in 2021 their 8-9 record meant that they narrowly missed this over.

All signs point towards improvement across the board with a rejuvenated coaching staff, and some promising talent brought in through free agency and the draft, with a potential for more moves in the near future. However, this is still Minnesota sports. What could happen over the course of the 2022 season that causes the Vikings not to hit the over and have their third straight losing season?

Injuries, Injuries, Injuries

The Vikings have injected some much-needed youth into their defense, but much of their troubles over the past two years have been caused by injuries. Anthony Barr, Danielle Hunter, and Eric Kendricks come to mind. If Hunter and Kendricks have to miss extended time, the defense could return to the struggles of recent years.

On top of the injuries within the established Vikings roster, they added a pass-rusher in Za’Darius Smith who missed all but one game in 2021. He doesn’t have a lengthy injury history at this point in his career, but the possibility cannot be ruled out that Smith could miss time again. If that happens, it might not matter how good the offense is. A bottom-feeder defense is a death sentence in the NFL unless your QB is named Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, or Tom Brady.

A Kirk Cousins Decline

We’re in the golden age of quarterbacks where Tom Brady is making 40 look like 30. As much as it seems to be taken for granted that QBs can just play forever, we have to take into account that Kirk Cousins is entering his age-34 season. Given the NFL’s history of QBs, it wouldn’t be all that uncommon to see a decline in play at this age.

In fact, as subtle as it may seem, we’ve seen a few steady decreases in productivity in Cousins’ game. Over each of the past three years, Cousins has declined in terms of completion percentage, passer rating, QB rating, and air yards per attempt. To this point, the decline has been minimal, but if there is a drastic drop in performance during 2022, that would be devastating to the Vikings.

Maybe They Are Just Cursed

In the end, the Minnesota Vikings look like a team that is ready to rebound in 2022. One major reason for this that I pointed out in this weekend’s piece was that they just had ungodly bad luck in 2021. Whether it was fluky turnovers or some of the worst two-minute drills the NFL has ever seen, the Vikings let so many opportunities slip through their fingertips.

That said, what if it happens again? After all, this is the Minnesota Vikings and Minnesota sports. If something can go wrong, history suggests that it will go wrong. It’s hard to believe that they could get as unlucky as they did in 2021, but man, I have to admit it’s in the back of my mind every time that I say the Vikings will be a better team in 2022.