In the 2023 NFL Playoffs, the Minnesota Vikings are the third seed in the NFC. They are hoping for a deep run to the Super Bowl this year. This is especially after they won the NFC North and proved a lot of doubters wrong this season. Here we look at why they will win the 2023 Super Bowl.
The Vikings will begin their playoff journey by facing off against the New York Giants during Wild Card Weekend. The two teams recently met on Christmas Eve, with Minnesota winning in a close game thanks to a 61-yard field goal by Greg Joseph. Despite gaining nearly 450 yards of offense, the Giants were unable to secure the win. This game is expected to be a close match, and it may once again come down to a field goal. This time around, the Vikings hope for a more comfortable margin of victory.
Keep in mind that the Vikings have had a strong season. They finished 13-4 with standout performances from QB Kirk Cousins and WR Justin Jefferson. However, they have also been involved in many close, one-score games. It’ll be interesting to see how far they can go, especially with so many doubters. However, nobody should be shocked if they go all the way.
Let’s look at four reasons the Minnesota Vikings will win the 2023 Super Bowl.
4. The Vikings Sack Tandem
While the Vikings defense may not be the strongest among the playoff teams, they do have a formidable pass-rushing duo in Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith. That’s in addition to a strong defensive tackle in Dalvin Tomlinson. However, this pass rush has also been inconsistent throughout the season, particularly in the second half. This was partly due to an injury suffered by Smith in week 10. That affected his performance for the rest of the season.
Now that he is fully recovered, though, Smith and Hunter will be ready to put pressure on all the quarterbacks that the Vikings will face. The first one is going to be Giants QB Daniel Jones. He has been playing well, particularly as a runner and scrambler, which could pose a challenge for the Vikings defense. However, if Hunter and Smith can perform at their best, they should neutralize Jones.
3. Vikings RB Dalvin Cook heats up
The Vikings’ running game has struggled for much of the season. However, as they prepare for a playoff matchup against the Giants, it would be beneficial for them to get their star running back, Dalvin Cook, going. The 28-year-old had a successful season, finishing sixth in the league in rushing yards with 1,173. He also had some impressive runs late in games, such as an 81-yard touchdown against the Bills. That’s in addition to a 53-yard touchdown against the Dolphins and a 64-yard receiving score against the Colts.
On the flip side, Cook’s 69 rushing yards per game was the lowest of his career. That’s down from 89.2 last season and 111.2 in 2020. His yards per carry was also a career-low 4.4. This would be a good week to try to improve that aspect of the offense as the Giants defense was poor against the run this season. In fact, they ranked last in the league in DVOA, EPA per rush, yards per carry, and rushing yards per game. And if Cook heats up in the Wild Card Round, he should be even more difficult to stop in the successive rounds of the postseason.
2. Vikings Receiver Corps is unstoppable
In the previous game against the Giants, Justin Jefferson had a strong performance. He caught 12 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown. It is likely that the Giants will focus on containing him in the rematch so the Vikings will need another player to step up. That should not be much of a problem. One guy who can rise to the occasion is KJ Osborn, who has had two games over 100 yards in the past four games. Another is TJ Hockenson, who dropped 109 yards on the Giants in their previous meeting.
In fact, both Jefferson and Hockenson combined for 242 receiving yards and three touchdowns in their Week 16 matchup with the Giants. We expect this receiver corps to still play at a very high level not only against the Giants but throughout the postseason. Jefferson should be the best overall wide receiver in the playoffs, and that’s huge for the Vikings’ chances of going far.
TOUCHDOWN: On 3rd & 10, Kirk Cousins 17-yd TD pass to Justin Jefferson#Giants 16 #Vikings 24 4th pic.twitter.com/tbbgM44HF1
— Sᴘᴏʀᴛs 24/7 (@Sports_24x7_) December 24, 2022
1. Kirk Cousins proves doubters wrong
Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins has a strong group of supporting players around him, which allows him to be more aggressive on the field. However, Cousins also has a tendency to be too aggressive. He is a streaky quarterback and has to play a certain style in order to be successful. We expect him to be.
Forget the fact that despite leading the Vikings to 13 wins this season, his 49.8 QBR ranks 23rd in the league. Cousins is the kind of QB who has a high ceiling and a low floor. In the Wild Card Round, he faces a Giants defense that has been solid against quarterbacks. However, Cousins also had success against them in their first meeting, passing for 299 yards and three touchdowns.
Everyone criticizes Cousins for his lack of prime-time and postseason success. In a way, those are valid. And yet he’s had a particularly encouraging run under coach Kevin O’Connell. Sure, his stats are lower than typical by his standards. Still, he’s been especially bold, resilient, and precise in close games.
O’Connell also frequently praises Cousins for the team’s success and puts teammates in his shoes to back him up. Cousins’ critics may not be silenced unless he has consistent playoff success, and he has the opportunity to do that this year.
We believe in Cousins and the Vikings. Don’t be shocked if they go all the way.