The Minnesota Vikings head into the 2022 NFL season with one of the most explosive offenses in the league. They feature one of the most productive quarterback-wide receiver duos from last year in Kirk Cousins and Justin “Mr. Griddy” Jefferson, plus a second Pro Bowl WR, Adam Thielen. Minnesota finally caught up with the times and brought in an offensive-minded head coach in Kevin O’Connell. If the Vikings plan on winning the NFC North during the Cousins era, now is the time.
This Vikings offense is loaded with weapons, and we haven’t even mentioned Dalvin Cook. And their schedule to open the year is relatively favorable. The Vikings play six games before their bye in Week 7, and only two of those are against playoff teams from last year. They open with Green Bay at home, then travel to Philadelphia for a Week 2 Monday Night showdown.
Minnesota is catching Aaron Rodgers and the Packers at the perfect time, Week 1. Rodgers is trying to build chemistry with his receiving group after Davante Adams’ departure. They’ve got a busted offensive line with tackle David Bakhtiari still working his way back from an ACL injury. Green Bay started last season by losing to New Orleans, 38-3. They bounced back, winning the next seven games. So, Week 1 could be the best time to get one up on the Packers.
Cousins has fared well against Green Bay, posting a 3-3-1 record since joining Minnesota in 2018. His overall record is 4-3-1 against the Packers, with the first win over them coming with Washington during the ‘16 campaign. Those head-to-head wins are nice, but now it’s time to take advantage and win this division.
This franchise hasn’t won the NFC North since 2017. That’s the year before Cousins arrived and the last time Minnesota advanced to the NFC championship game. The Vikings could be poised 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 gets Detroit, New Orleans, and Chicago at home before traveling to Miami in Week 6 before the bye. This Vikings squad could be 5-1 at the break. They shouldn’t be any worse than 4-2 at that point.
Playing for a coach who thinks offense first should be a significant advantage for this team. Coach O’Connell was the Rams’ offensive coordinator the past two seasons. Having learned under Sean McVay is seen as another considerable advantage. Cousins and Jefferson broke records last year, so seeing how much more O’Connell will open up that playbook will be fun.
It’s incredible how overlooked Cousins is on the field, yet one of his receivers finished second in yards last year and set new rookie records. Jefferson wasn’t throwing the ball to himself. If Thielen can stay on the field, this WR tandem will be hell for secondaries to cover. Stafford leaving the Lions made Cousins the second-best QB in the division. The Vikings have a good chance at knocking the Packers from their throne, and they need to take advantage early in the season.
Once Rodgers and that offense get settled in, they’ll be a tough matchup for anyone. But if you’re lucky enough to catch ‘em early like the Vikings, you need to put them in a hole not even Rodgers can dig his way out of. The Lions and Bears are also division rivals, but if the Vikings can’t sweep them, they aren’t real contenders.
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