2022 could be the year of the Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings enter the 2022 NFL season with one of the most explosive offenses in the league. They feature one of the most productive quarterback receiver duos from last year in Kirk Cousins and Justin “Mr. Griddy” Jefferson, plus a second Pro Bowl WR, Adam Thielen. O’Connell: If the Vikings plan to win the NFC North in the Cousins era, now is the time.
This Viking attack is loaded with weapons, and we haven’t even mentioned Dalvin Cook. And their year opening schedule is relatively favorable. The Vikings have six games before their Week 7 bye, and only two of them are against playoff teams from last year. They open with Green Bay at home, then travel to Philadelphia for a Week 2 showdown on Monday night.
Minnesota catches Aaron Rodgers and the Packers at the perfect time in Week 1. Rodgers is trying to build chemistry with his receiving squad after Davante Adams leaves. They have a splintered offensive line with tackle David Bakhtiari still working his way back from an ACL injury. Green Bay started last season losing to New Orleans, 38-3. They bounced back, winning the next seven games. So Week 1 might be the best time to get one on the Packers.
Cousins has performed well against Green Bay, posting a 3-3-1 record since joining Minnesota in 2018. His overall record is 4-3-1. versus the Packers, with the first win over them coming with Washington in the 16 campaign. Those head-to-head wins are nice, but now is the time to take advantage of them and win this division.
This franchise hasn’t won the NFC North since 2017. That was the year before Cousins arrived and the last time Minnesota qualified for the NFC Championship Game. The Vikings could be about to make another deep run in the NFC with a hot start.
After those first two games, the schedule becomes more manageable over the next four weeks. Minnesota hosts Detroit, New Orleans and Chicago at home before heading to Miami in Week 6 before the bye. This Vikings team could be 5-1 at the break. They shouldn’t be worse than 4-2 at this point.
Playing for a coach who thinks attack first should be a significant advantage for this team. Coach O’Connell has been the Rams’ offensive coordinator for the past two seasons. Having learned under Sean McVay is seen as another big plus. Cousins and Jefferson broke records last year, so seeing how far O’Connell cracks open this playbook will be fun.
It’s amazing how neglected Cousins is on the court, but one of his receivers has finished second in yards last year and set new rookie records. Jefferson was not throwing the ball to himself. If Thielen can stay on the court, this WR tandem will be hell to cover for the secondaries. Stafford leaving the Lions made Cousins the second best QB in the division. The Vikings have a good chance of toppling the Packers from their throne, and they need to take advantage of it early in the season.
Once Rodgers and that offense are set up, they’ll be a tough game for everyone. But if you’re lucky enough to catch them early like the Vikings, you need to put them in a hole that even Rodgers can’t get out of. The Lions and Bears are also division rivals, but if the Vikings can’t sweep them, they’re not real contenders.