NFL Sharps, Nerds Forecast Vikings Luck to Run Out
The Minnesota Vikings are 10-2 and there’s no disputing that, right? Well, don’t tell that to oddsmakers or the sharps out there trying to get rich off their lines.
As of 10 AM on Wednesday morning, the (10-2) Vikings are listed as (+2.5) underdogs vs the (5-7) Detroit Lions. Yes, the game is in the Motor City but the Kitties haven’t been impressive at Ford Field (3-4).
Nerds hate the Vikings, too.
It isn’t just the sportsbooks who do not believe in the NFC North leaders, though. Football nerds have hated them all season, for a variety of reasons. Let’s dive into some of them.
FootballOutsiders.com has a metric that nerds love to use called DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average), which “measures a team’s efficiency by comparing success on every single play to a league average based on situation and opponent”.
The Vikings rank 18th in the NFL in DVOA, 20th in weighted DVOA. In fact, -5.5 is the worst DVOA of any 10-2 team since 1981, according to FootballOutsiders.com. Next on the list — the 2000 Minnesota Vikings — carried a +2.4 DVOA into week 14 that season. That team eventually lost 41-0 in the NFC Championship.
The NFL, itself, has been on a nerd hiring spree, apparently. And those nerds have come up with an actual measurement for what they consider football “luck” (explained here). It’s based on whether or not opponents cash in on opportunities (interceptions, field goals, dropped passes), along with which teams get the “lucky bounces” (mostly based on fumble recoveries?).
According to the NFL, Minnesota ranks as the 4th luckiest team in the league. What’s holding them down? Fumble recovery differential, apparently…
Updated Net Win Probability Added by Luck Dashboard thru Week 13: pic.twitter.com/EExCA6V9d9— Tom Bliss (@DataWithBliss) December 6, 2022
Some detractors consider the Vikings lucky, others call them overrated. WalterFootball.com, which may not even qualify as a nerd-run website, has been holding Minnesota down in its weekly power rankings (currently #8) since the start of the season.
Their reasoning: “Overrated NFL Team: See why the Vikings are an overrated NFL team in our Overrated-Underrated page.” I mean, the paragraph written on why they are overrated is out of control. And what I clipped here doesn’t even include what they had to say about the Bills win…
They got the Packers when Green Bay was missing countless starters. They made a comeback versus a Detroit team that suffered a ton of injuries during the game. They squeaked by the Saints even though New Orleans was missing its starting quarterback, running back, and top receiver. They also couldn’t generate any offense in the second half against the Bears, save for the final drive. There was that ridiculous Miami game in which the Dolphins legitimately outgained the Vikings by 224 yards. They beat Arizona in a 50-50 game where the Cardinals were missing four offensive linemen. Minnesota barely got by the Redskins, and they got trashed by the Cowboys. They beat the Patriots, but were outgained in total yards and yards per play. The Vikings have a solid offense and an above-average defense, so I don’t necessarily think that makes them a top-10 team. There was a huge disparity between them and the Eagles and Cowboys.WalterFootball.com
You either believe… or you don’t.
Much like an 8-year-old kid has to decide whether or not they want to believe in Santa Clause, Vikings fans might have to decide whether or not they believe in their favorite football team.
The evidence is all around us, if you want to doubt your beliefs. Maybe, mom and dad forgot to move the Elf on the Shelf last night. That’s just like how the Vikings’ offensive line sometimes forgets to block for Kirk Cousins. Kids oftentimes find presents from Santa unwrapped in the closet. Much like how opposing quarterbacks find a lot of open wide receivers in the Vikings’ secondary.
I’ve made this analogy the last couple of nights on Minnesota Sports Fan Daily, and it rings true. Because on Christmas, whether your kids believe in Santa or not, presents are going to be under the tree. And at the end of this 2022 regular season, the Minnesota Vikings are going to be in the playoffs.
From there, anything can happen, right? The kids might unwrap a new iPad or hoverboard. On the contrary, they could be disappointed with a pair of sox, maybe a savings bond. Just like the Vikings could unwrap a divisional round loss that ends their postseason in haste. But maybe… just maybe, there’s a Super Bowl run under that playoff tree, after all.
The Vikings are still a new team that has a lot to learn about new schemes on both sides of the ball. The nerds and sharps might disagree, but once the playoffs start, anything can happen.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan