June 30, 2022

This will be Year 3 of the 7-team playoff format, so Minnesota needs to step up

December 23, 2018; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) and Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins ​​(8) after the game at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller – USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 season was pretty solid. A 10-6 record led to a thrilling Minnesota Vikings win over the Saints in the first round of the playoffs. After a really lackluster 2018 (8-7-1 record), 2019 was a big step forward. Unfortunately, the team never took the next step under the leadership of Spielman-Zimmer-Cousins. Even the expanded playoff format wasn’t enough to help.

The 2022 season will be the third the NFL will bring an additional team into the playoffs. Instead of two wildcard teams, each conference gets three. In 2020, the Bears entered with an uninspiring 8-8 record. Last year the Eagles went 9-8. Minnesota couldn’t get past a .500 team and a team slightly over .500.

Now, the Vikings will start the year with an Adofo-Mensah-O’Connell-Cousins ​​trinity of leadership. Neither the GM nor the HC are going anywhere unless something drastic happens. Both will have, at a minimum, three or four years to show owners that they are part of the solution.

Cousins, on the other hand, has been around for a little while. I know he signed the two-year extension, but the team could really start to rebuild next season. Part of that rebuild could involve leaving Cousins, trading him to a team he accepts with since he has the no-trade clause.

NFC, moreover, seems much less dangerous. The Bears and Lions have virtually no chance of success in 2022. The Packers are still division favorites, but losing Davante Adams is a huge hit. Russell Wilson is no longer in Seattle, and there are plenty of QB questions for teams like Carolina, New Orleans and Atlanta.

In other words, the Minnesota Vikings have a reasonable path to the playoffs. Green Bay isn’t untouchable, and the wider competition doesn’t seem as robust as in previous seasons. Not making a 7-team playoff would be a massive failure for Minnesota given the talent out there. They could have started the rebuild this season, but they avoided that option in favor of trying again. Nothing less than the playoffs and then really in competition in the playoffs is a failure.

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