4 Reasons to Keep Your Chin Up about Vikings 2023 Season

Sep 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) catches a pass against the Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. (26) in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings have +290 odds to reach the postseason after Week 3, which is about 26%.

When the season began, those odds were closer to 50%.

4 Reasons to Keep Your Chin Up about Vikings 2023 Season

The club has lost three games out of the gate, sending some fans to call for the end of the Kwesi Adofo-Mensah + Kevin O’Connell era, just 20 months into the duo’s competitive rebuild phase of recent Vikings history. Some fans who wanted the team to rebuild are now saying, “No, not like that.”

And while the chances are low to salvage the current season, there are reasons for optimism going forward. These are those, ranked in ascending order of importance.

4. Cousins Doing His Part

Keep Your Chin Up
Sep 14, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

If a Vikings fan had learned a month ago that the team would be 0-3 to start the season, it probably would’ve suggested Kirk Cousins struggled to find his footing.

Well, that is emphatically not the case, and Cousins is one of the team’s few saving graces through three games. Cousins leads the NFL in passing yards and touchdown passes, ranking 9th in EPA+CPOE and 12th in QBR.

Should the Vikings string together a win or two — that feels like a mighty task at the moment — they won’t have to wait around for the quarterback to find a rhythm. He’s already there. The hard part is done.

What’s more, Cousins historically plays his best football in October and November. Ergo, if the offensive line and defense, in general, start humming, the QB1 will be waiting with open arms.

3. The 2018 Texans

Oct 25, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans offensive guard Senio Kelemete (64) spikes the ball after a touchdown by wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) during the fourth quarter against the Miami Dolphins at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports.

In 2018, the Houston Texans, led by Deshaun Watson (the productive and reputationally untainted version), kicked off their season with an 0-3 record and then fundamentally flipped the script. By Week 14, Houston’s record was 9-3, totally revamping a season that felt dead in the water.

It seems unlikely for the Vikings to follow suit, but it also didn’t feel like the Texans would fix that season on the fly. Long story short, a Vikings turnaround, starting this Sunday at Carolina, would not be the weirdest thing in the world. There is hope.

The caveat, though, is Minnesota must start winning — like now. They must defeat the Panthers, figure something out at home against the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, and see how it goes in the following two weeks against the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers.

There is precedent to completely turn around a season, but the low point has to be now.

2. The Schedule Softens

Sep 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell takes the field before the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

This is the remaining schedule for Minnesota, with home games in red:

  • Week 4: at Panthers (10/1)
  • Week 5: Chiefs (10/8)
  • Week 6: at Bears (10/15)
  • Week 7: 49ers (10/23, MNF)
  • Week 8: at Packers (10/29)
  • Week 9: at Falcons (11/5)
  • Week 10: Saints (11/12)
  • Week 11: at Broncos (11/19, SNF)
  • Week 12: Bears (11/27, MNF)
  • Week 13: BYE
  • Week 14: at Raiders (12/10)
  • Week 15: at Bengals (TBD)
  • Week 16: Lions (12/24)
  • Week 17: Packers (12/31, SNF)
  • Week 18: at Lions (1/7)

Who knows how the Vikings will perform against the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers in a few weeks, but after that contest, the schedule really exhales. Games versus the Falcons, Saints, Broncos, Bears, and Raiders are winnable, even for the 0-3 Vikings, who are hellbent on close, one-score matchups.

If Minnesota can tabulate a 3-2 or 4-1 record in the next five weeks, the sky is the limit, believe it or not, from Week 9 to Week 14.

1. Change Is Afoot

Lottery Ticket QB
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks on before the game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The QB1 is not under contract beyond this season, the team’s record is 0-3, and the general manager has called his strategy a competitive rebuild. Assuming the 2023 campaign does not change for the better, 2023 marks the most significant moment for change that the Vikings have experienced in 10 years.

Let’s say the Vikings miss the postseason, have a poor record + a decent draft pick, and the win-loss status quo from September 26th remains intact. This team will head for a collision course with change, equipped with cap space, an invitation to find the next quarterback, and a roster dripping with youth.

If all you’ve wanted for the last few years is the team to start over, the 2024 offseason is getting gift-wrapped at the moment for you.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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