About Boardroom

Boardroom is a media network that covers the business of sports, entertainment. From the ways that athletes, executives, musicians and creators are moving the business world forward to new technologies, emerging leagues, and industry trends, Boardroom brings you all the news and insights you need to know...

At the forefront of industry change, Boardroom is committed to unique perspectives on and access to the news, trending topics and key players you need to know.

All Rights Reserved. 2022.

How the Minnesota Vikings Became NFC North Favorites

The Minnesota Vikings are 5-1 and have emerged as a force in the NFC North thanks to coaching, talent, and continuity.

When Davante Adams left Green Bay for Las Vegas, the NFC North immediately became an enigma. After all, the Minnesota Vikings won only eight games last year, the Bears are in the middle of a rebuild, and the Lions…well, they’re still the Lions.

But the offseason mystery known as the NFC North has a clear frontrunner six weeks into the season, and it’s the 5-1 Vikings.

Rolling into their bye week, the Vikings are the products of continuity, largely returning the same roster from last year. They only spent $212 million in offseason acquisitions (eighth-fewest in the NFL), extended QB Kirk Cousins for one year at $35 million, and kept all their offensive weapons in place. It’s been more than enough.

Sign up for our newsletter

Get on our list for weekly sports business, industry trends, interviews, and more.

Their biggest changes came in the form of the coaching staff and upper management, and right now it’s paying dividends. They replaced former coach Mike Zimmer with Kevin O’Connell and former GM Rick Spielman with Kwesi Adofo-Mensah.

O’Connell is being praised as an early Coach of the Year candidate, and perhaps it’s due after years serving as an assistant under Chip Kelly, Jay Gruden, and Sean McVay.

Let’s take a look at what’s working best in the Twin Cities.

The Passing Game

We mentioned Kirk Cousins signing for an extra year. Some doubted his ability to lead after two disappointing seasons, but ridding Zimmer for O’Connell has given him a newfound confidence we haven’t seen since Stefon Diggs was his WR1 three years back. And you might even argue that this team has a higher ceiling than that 2019 team.

Kirk Cousins
CategoryLeague Rank
Touchdowns: 9T-7th
Interceptions: 5T-4th most
Pass Yards/Game: 1,5028th
Completion: 66.2%12th
Sacks Taken: 11T-15th
PFF Grade (Week 6): 71.5T-11th

There’s nothing fancy about his numbers, but it’s been enough to get the job done despite a bottom-10-ranked backfield. It also helps when you have one of the most dominant wide receivers in the league.

Justin Jefferson
CategoryWR Rank
Receptions: 464th
Total Yards: 6543rd
Yards/Game: 1093rd
YAC: 2892nd
Touchdowns: 3T-4th
20+ Rec. Plays: 11T-1st
Avg. Salary: $3.3 million67th

The consensus top-five wideout will be eligible for a huge extension this offseason. Expect him to become one of the highest-paid receivers in the league.

Closing Games

One of the biggest reasons the Vikings finished 8-9 last season was their inability to close out games. In fact, seven out of their nine losses came by only one possession. This year, they’re 3-0 in games decided by eight points or less.

It underscores how crucial it is to have a good coach. But ultimately, it’s about execution. Offensively, they’re averaging 8.5 points in the fourth quarter (fifth-most in the NFL). Defensively, they’re only allowing 4.5 points in the final frame. They’ve given up a lot of yards to opponents, but they’re getting the offense back on the field with 10 takeaways (fourth-most in the NFL).

Outlook

It’s a little early to call them Super Bowl contenders, but the Vikings are well-coached and have plenty of talent to get the job done. We’re talking about a team with Adam Thielen as the WR2 and a proven RB1 in Dalvin Cook. Given how bad the NFC North has looked — and considering they get to play division opponents twice each — their schedule has a handful of winnable games remaining.

We’ll get a better feel for these guys when they face the Bills on the road in Week 10 and then the Cowboys at home in Week 11.

Future Betting Odds

All odds via FanDuel Sportsbook.

  • Win NFC North: (-290)
  • Win Super Bowl: (+1600)
  • Win Total: Over 11.5 (+110) | Under (-130)
  • Make Playoffs: Yes (-950) | No (+670)
Sign up for our newsletter

Get on our list for weekly sports business, industry trends, interviews, and more.

About The Author
Anthony Puccio
Anthony Puccio
Anthony Puccio is a Staff Writer at Boardroom. Puccio has 10 years of experience in journalism and content creation, previously working for SB Nation, The Associated Press, New York Daily News, SNY, and Front Office Sports. In 2016, he received New York University's CCTOP scholarship and earned a bachelor's degree in Communications from St. John's University. He can be spotted a mile away thanks to his plaid suits and thick New York accent. Don't believe us? Check his Twitter @APooch.