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Will the Vikings even be favored to defend their NFC North title in 2023?


Facing an offseason of uncertainty after an enchanted 2022 regular season, perhaps an instructive way to see how the Vikings should approach 2023 is through this lens: Should they be favored to win the NFC North again?

If you answered “yes,” you probably want them to approach the offseason differently than if you answered “no.” But however you arrive at either answer, it’s complicated.

Here are some of the factors at play:

REGRESSION VS. SYSTEM COMFORT

It’s virtually impossible for the Vikings to go 11-0 again in one-scored games during the regular season. Their one-score playoff loss to the Giants exposed the fragility of banking on narrow wins.

It also stands to reason that the Vikings will have to make tough choices on high-priced veterans in order to get below the salary cap and potentially extend NFL MVP finalist Justin Jefferson. While some of this pruning can help Vikings grow younger and faster, there will always be some growing pains.

Is Year 2 under Kevin O’Connell — particularly on offense, and assuming Kirk Cousins ​​is still the QB — enough to offset some of that regression? May be. But from there, it’s a chore to win even 10 games, let alone 13. If that’s the best case scenario, is that enough?

THE RODGERS FACTOR

Part of that could depend on what Aaron Rodgers decides to do, whenever he decides to stop talking about it and make a decision (as discussed on Wednesday’s Daily Delivery podcast).

Although Rodgers has looked older, slower and generally less effective in 2022 than expected, some of that could be attributed to injuries and a less than ideal level of dedication in the offseason.

If he decides he wants to keep playing and decides he wants it to be for the Packers, there’s still enough for Green Bay to be a rebound factor in 2023.

ARE LIONS REAL?

Detroit was the best team in the division during the second half of the season. The Lions will be a fashionable choice to win the North, as evidenced by a recent ESPN article which sampled several league executives and noted “a few people we spoke to offered Detroit as the 2023 division winner. “.

Lions can still be Lions, but they will be a factor.

OH YEAH, BEARS

Chicago will almost certainly finish last in the four-team division. But the Bears have the No. 1 pick and should be better in 2023 — maybe good enough to steal a game from the Vikings.

Ultimately, the Vikings should still be a division contender in a less than great NFC North. But they won’t run away like they did in 2022, and they might not win it at all.

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