The Minnesota Vikings threw the best party of 2022. It was fantastic. One of those party's so insane that when you tell your friends how crazy it was you actually wonder if you're full of shit yourself. People Griddied all over the dance floor. Shirts came off on airplanes. Absolutely everything went the Vikings way. Any fan experiencing this magic must have just had the time of their life as each and every week became more and more of a fantastic blur. Reality didn't matter - it was all about the experience living in the moment.
Well now it's 2023 and that New Year's hangover is a fucking bitch.
Absolutely nothing went right for the Vikings on Sunday. Two garbage time touchdowns prevented this from being a 41-3 beatdown as Bad Kirk Cousins woke up from his weekly Sunday nap from 12:00 to 3:00 to put up a classic stinker with interceptions that could make Carson Wentz shake his head in disbelief. All the magic of 2022 seemed to get sucked into a black hole. Every break went the Packers way in the first half and Mason Crosby's end of half field goal bouncing off the upright and in was the cherry on top. The football gods made it quite clear they've had enough of the Vikings bullshit.
But are the Vikings really washed and done? Is there any more luck to rub out of the bottle to carry them to win a Super Bowl? Let's dive a bit deeper to find out. Well start by looking at how far each 12-4 team graphed above went into the playoffs. It's a long scroll but necessary to see where the past Super Bowl winning 12-4 teams tended to find themselves on the scale.
Focusing on 2022 alone - we have three 12-4 teams. They 49ers (+148), the Cowboys (+145) and the Vikings (-19) pending the 12-3 Bills (+157) MNF matchup. But the moral here is that unless your quarterback was literally Peyton Manning, no 12-4 team ever won a Super bowl with a point differential of less than 90. The Vikings are at -19. Oh yeah - and they have Kirk Cousins. Not ideal.
Since the Vikings are literally 50 points away from the second worst team on this chart (even after two garbage time touchdowns Sunday) it's probably more accurate to just compare them to teams with a similar point differential. Let's say they finish somewhere between -19 and 0 after Week 18. 130 teams since the merger ended the season in this range. Only three teams made it to a conference championship and the 2011 New York Giants (-6) were the only team to win and even appear in a Super Bowl.
Again, the only way to have a shitty point differential and win a Super Bowl is if the back of your quarterback's jersey reads "Manning". That's pretty much where we're at here. The Vikings have been meandering through 2022 like Big Head from Silicon Valley - a mediocre team humming along while sipping a Big Gulp as everything goes their way. But what happens when all the unearned good fortune the Vikings acquired dries up? Is it possible they wasted their luck on petty games like Big Head wasted his on moving his in-ground swimming pool a few feet to left and right too many times? The data seems to suggest if the Vikings are going to have any chance to go all the way they are going to need to either sign Peyton or Eli who specialize in winning Super Bowls with shitty teams (ignoring the fact that Peyton was quite literally the reason the 2015 Broncos might be considered shitty).
In all seriousness though, the only thing the Vikings can really do here is keep rubbing that lamp and hope the intoxicating genie comes out again to cure Sunday's wicked hangover and keep the party going into February. But if Kirk throws another three picks next week I might pivot back and suggest listening to the data and sign a manning. If Peyton and Eli won't do it, escape eligibility requirements and tell Arch to die his hair white and draw an "ie" after his name on his ID and pretend he's grandpa.
Whatever you have to do.