Friday, January 27, 2023
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Cowboys, Eagles most trustworthy candidates

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No, Sunday’s 40-3 home loss didn’t end the Vikings’ season. We’ve seen eventual playoff teams lose regular-season games by a wide margin like that more than you might realize. 

Just last season, we had two playoff teams (the Packers and Raiders) lose games by 35 or more points. Green Bay was the NFC’s No. 1 seed in 2021, too. The year before, the eventual-champion Bucs were dusted, 38-3, at home by the Saints in Week 9. Bad losses can happen to good teams.

But depending on how we define good teams, the Vikings are an interesting case study given their point differential. Minnesota is, incredibly, at -2 right now, the lowest mark by any team to start a season 8-2 or better through 10 games in NFL history, per NFL Research. The previous low was +6 by the 1987 Chargers, who missed the playoffs that year. The Vikings are the only squad with a negative point differential and fewer than five losses in 2022.

Now, that stat alone isn’t reason enough to dismiss them. They have big-play talents on offense and a defense that were, at least until Sunday, able to make a big play when it was needed. 

Even so, it’s hard to fully get behind a team when its two losses are to its two biggest competitors for the top slot in the NFC. Losing to the Eagles and Cowboys by a combined 54 points sends a certain type of message. And when you combine that with how the Vikings have won some games — narrow wins, including a few over teams that were playing backup quarterbacks — it really raises some questions.

At 8-2, they have a shot. But it’s a lesser shot than it was a few days ago.

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