When we take a look at the Vikings in 2023, there are multiple angles to look at. They certainly aren’t going to go undefeated in one-score games like they did going 11-0 in the 2022 regular season. That is the biggest talking point among analysts, but they also don’t talk about that same regression going positive.
As we look ahead, here are the six biggest bold predictions for the Vikings 2023 season.
Last season's bold predictions
Last season, we had three bold predictions and they came about with various levels of success.
Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith would combine for 30+ sacks-Failed. They combined for 20, but over 150 pressures.
Ed Ingram will make All-Rookie team-Failed. He played more snaps than any rookie offensive lineman, but allowed the most pressures in the NFL.
1. Ed Ingram will cut his pressures allowed in half
The interesting thing with Ingram in dissecting his pressure numbers is looking at his total snaps. 1,225 snaps is significant and ranked sixth in that category while ranking the worst in the league with 63 pressures allowed. Asking Ingram to cut them in half is a significant ask, but it’s plausible.
How can it happen? Well, the first thing to look at is how Kevin O’Connell is going to run the offense. There will be a lot more boot-action plays along with having an entire offseason to fix the issues that plagued him in his rookie year. That type of playing time is vital to growth. Pair all of that with continuity on the offensive line and you have a recipe for real improvement.
2. Danielle Hunter will have 17 sacks
Last year, we predicted that Hunter and Smith would combine for 30 sacks and it didn’t come to fruition. What did come to fruition was 10.5 sacks and 70 pressures, with the latter being good enough for eighth-best in the NFL.
Last season in the same defense that Brian Flores is implementing, Matthew Judon had 15.5 sacks and Hunter has more talent and is a significantly better athlete. Flores is going to get Hunter in very advantageous situations to make plays on the quarterback.
3. Vikings defense will be at least 20th in points or yards allowed
The Vikings’ defense has more talent than what the ranking of second-worst defense would tell you. A major part of the problem was former defensive coordinator Ed Donatell not putting players in positions to succeed, but rather tell them to run his scheme.
Flores is going to put his players in positions to succeed and the defense will be catered to them rather than forcing square pegs into a round hole. This type of improvement will also be predicated on young players taking a big step forward this season, but it’s certainly plausible considering Flores has done more with less.
4. Justin Jefferson gets 2,000 receiving yards
Each season, Justin Jefferson has increased his yardage total by approximately 200 yards. Asking him to do so again in 2023 isn’t something that should be discounted, even if it would set an NFL record.
Nobody is a better route runner in the NFL than Jefferson, who moves flawlessly in and out of breaks getting defenders out of their shoes in the process. His 1,809 yards last season came with multiple games where he was singled out by the defense. It’s going to be a lot harder to do that this year with T.J. Hockenson and Jordan Addison around for the entire year.
5. Ty Chandler leads the Vikings in rushing
This is the spiciest of all of the takes on the board here. Alexander Mattison is entrenched as the starting running back and it would take a significant amount of success or an injury for someone else to take over that spot.
Ty Chandler is a very talented back who can play on all three downs. He arguably was the best offensive player that the Vikings had during the preseason, displaying a combination of explosiveness, vision and ball security throughout. With a somewhat committee like approach, Chandler could establish himself as the guy in the backfield.
6. Andrew Booth Jr. plays less than 300 snaps
Make no mistakes here, I am a fan of Andrew Booth Jr. He has all the talent in the world to be a really good player in this system. His ability to click-and-close is something that is rare in the league, but he needs to put it all together.
Right now, Booth simply isn’t ready for any kind of substantial role in the NFL. He struggles to both stay healthy and allows his aggressiveness to take over and become a hindrance instead of a strength. Right now, you can’t trust him to play a sizable role, but that could change if he’s thrust into action.
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