The Minnesota Vikings are coming off their best regular-season in nearly two decades. The Vikings ran away with the NFC North and earned the No. 2 see in the NFC at 13-3 (tied Eagles and Patriots for best record overall).
Minnesota was hoping to become the first team to ever play in the Super Bowl the year they were hosting it. It looked like it might be destiny for that to happen after a 61-yard TD pass on the final play of regulation to beat the Saints 29-24 in the Divisional Round. Then came their NFC Championship Game showdown against the Eagles and those hopes were put to rest in an ugly 38-7 defeat.
Heading into their 5th season under head coach Mike Zimmer (39-25 record), expectations are sky-high in Minneapolis. The Vikings not only brought back their nucleus from last year’s team, but went out and made some big splashes on both sides of the ball.
The biggest move came at quarterback. Minnesota decided it was time to part ways with their trio of potential starters in Case Keenum, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater and opted to go out and pay $84 million (3-year deal) in free agency to add Kirk Cousins.
Cousins will step into a great situation, as the Vikings have quite the 1-2 punch at wide receiver in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Not to mention a decent threat at tight end in Kyle Rudolph.
They will also welcome back running back Dalvin Cook, who looked like the real deal in the 4 games he played before suffering a season-ending injury.
The core of the leagues top rated defense is back (No. 1 in both scoring defense and yards allowed), with the addition of talented defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson, who they lured away from the Seahawks. They also used their 1st round pick (No. 30) on UCF corner Mike Hughes.
There’s no denying the talent is there for Minnesota to win it all and just about anything other than winning the Super Bowl would be considered a disappointment. The big question is how will the Vikings be able to handle all the hype surrounding this team. Keep in mind they were coming off an 8-8 season prior to last year’s rise to the top. They are no longer the ones hunting, but the ones with a target squarely on their back.
2018 Vikings Schedule & Projected Odds
Below you will find the early odds released by Vegas for Weeks 1-16, as well as my projected number for Week 17. Using the lines we are able to give a game-by-game win probability, which we used to come up an expected win total.
|4||at Rams TNF||+3||0.41|
|14||at Seahawks MNF||-2||0.54|
Projected Wins: 10.07
Over/Under Wins Prediction: OVER 10
I actually think there’s some decent value here with the Vikings OVER 10 on their season win total. To lose this bet, Minnesota would have to finish 9-7 or worse. It’s not out of the question, but I just feel the only way this team doesn’t win at least 10 games is if they are decimated with injuries.
No disrespect to Keenum, who played out of his mind last year, Minnesota upgraded at the most important position on the field when they signed Cousins. Say what you want about his win/loss record with the Redskins, the guy put up some of the best numbers in the league. It’s not his fault he played on a team with a bad defense and no running game.
The weapons are just as good in Minnesota as they were in Washington and he’s finally going to play in a balanced offense with Cook playing a major role on the ground. I also think Cousins will thrive under new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, who was the Eagles QB coach a year ago.
Not only will the Vikings defense be the best stop unit that Cousins has had in his time as a starter, but it’s one of the best in the league. With the addition of Richardson, Minnesota has one of the most talented and deepest fronts in the league. They are also loaded with talent in the secondary after adding another first round corner in Hughes.
I just feel like 10-6 is poorly as this team can do if they stay healthy and there’s a great chance they win 12+ games and finish with the best record in the NFC.
Odds to Win the Super Bowl: +1200
I certainly wouldn’t be upset about having a ticket on the Vikings to win the Super Bowl. Minnesota has just as good a chance as any team in the league to win the Lombardi Trophy this year.
I also think you are getting a great price on the Vikings at 12 to 1, which is the 5th best odds to win it all behind the Patriots, Eagles, Rams and Steelers. There’s no reason given the talent this team has that they have odds greater than 10 to 1.
You can take your chances and hope Minnesota struggles early and a better number might pop up, but don’t be surprised if this is the best price you see.
Odds to Win the NFC: +700
Not quite as much value here with the Vikings to win the NFC, but at least this way you wouldn’t have to sweat them blowing it in the Super Bowl.
Note the Rams have much better odds to win the Super bowl at +950, yet Los Angeles has the exact same odds to win the NFC as the Vikings at +700. I think the odds here are a lot more accurate to what we should be seeing.
Odds to Win the NFC North: +135
Typically when you have a team like the Vikings, who are legit Super Bowl contender, it’s hard to see them not winning their own division. I’m not saying Minnesota can’t or won’t win the NFC North, but it’s far from a sure thing. That’s because they play in the same division as Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. The Vikings could very easily go 11-5 and finish 2nd in the North.