Vikings record projection for 2022 season

Jordy McElroy
Vikings Wire

The last thing any Minnesota Vikings fan wants to see is another season of mediocrity—you know, when the team loses close games, finishes with an 8-9 record and misses the playoffs.

Keep the paper sacks handy because there might be some hyperventilating if USA TODAY’s Nate Davis’ recent prediction comes true.

INJURY UPDATE:Irv Smith Jr. expected to fully participate in training camp

In a subscriber-only article on Tuesday, Davis predicted the Vikings to finish 2022 with an 8-9 record and miss the playoffs for a third-straight year.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) takes part in drills during the NFL football team's training camp in Eagan, Minn., Wednesday, July 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

"The talent quotient looks pretty darn good for a team that's frankly underachieved in recent seasons," Davis wrote. "But the culture is in its nascent stages as rookie shot callers Kwesi Adofo-Mensah (GM) and Kevin O'Connell (HC) relaunch the program. Still, O'Connell's preexisting ties to Kirk Cousins – he was the quarterback's position coach in Washington in 2017 – might provide a running start."

It’s a fair argument to make that the Vikings could be looking at the exact same finish they had a year ago, especially with this being a relaunching of the same team, basically, with new coaches.

LOFTY GOALS:Justin Jefferson says he'll be the best 'after this year'

Isn’t that the very definition of insanity? It’s doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.

But at the same time, there are reasons to believe the Vikings will break the cycle this time around. They weren’t necessarily a bad team last year, but they’ve continued this weird trend of failing to close out games.

Perhaps a hot-shot head coach in O’Connell, who just won a Super Bowl as an offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams, is the man to get the Vikings over the hump.

You don’t know what you don’t know, right? And O’Connell seemingly has the team buying in to the idea that they can compete for a Super Bowl this year.

Just look at how fired up second-year receiver Ihmir-Smith Marsette was when arriving to training camp.

There’s the mental side of things, where everything feels brand new for this Vikings roster. They truly believe they can be that next team to make a Cincinnati Bengals-like leap.

And they have the personnel to back up that confidence.

The offense has all of the potential to leapfrog into the elite category. They have one of the best receiving corps in football headed by All-Pro wideout Justin Jefferson, along with a legitimate two-headed monster at running back with Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison. And tight end Irv Smith Jr., who suffered a season-ending knee injury last year, will be back in the mix as well.

Sure, quarterback Kirk Cousins might be polarizing, but the fact that he’s coming off a year where he threw for 4,221 yards, 33 touchdowns and only seven interceptions is reason enough to be excited.

NEW VOICE: How analytics help Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah embrace uncertainty

Oh, and the Vikings defense got some major upgrades with the most noted addition being outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith, who will make the scariest pairing with Danielle Hunter since the Bash Brothers, Dean Portman and Fulton Reed.

There’s optimism to find with the team, but it’s not all perfect, obviously.

The Vikings still have question marks in the defensive backfield, and the interior part of the offensive line could be an issue as well. However, there’s clearly hope that brighter days are ahead in Minnesota.

Hope that the days of being mediocre are far, far in the rearview.