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Lunchbreak: Vikings Listed Among 5 NFL Teams That Could Exceed Expectations

Don't sleep on the Vikings, NFL fans.

CBS Sports' Jordan Dajani recently highlighted "five teams that could be better than you expect in 2022," and he included the Vikings in that group. Dajani wrote:

Is Kevin O'Connell the next Sean McVay or Kyle Shanahan? He's a former Washington assistant whom Jay Gruden had to promote to offensive coordinator back in the day so other teams wouldn't steal him. He was even given head coach consideration after Gruden was fired, but the franchise chose Ron Rivera instead.

The Vikings weren't a 'bad' team in 2021. They went 8-9, and it's very possible they just needed new leadership to really shake things up. O'Connell already has a rapport with quarterback Kirk Cousins. He also possesses one of the best running backs in the league in Dalvin Cook, and Justin Jefferson is a rising star. Throw in the possibility that the Green Bay Packers could regress a bit, and this Vikings team could be better than you expect in 2022.

The other four teams spotlighted by Dajani were the Dolphins, Saints, Steelers and Raiders.

Minnesota is slated to play at Miami in Week 6 this season and the Saints in Week 4. Minnesota also will open its preseason slate at Las Vegas.

If you asked anyone who the biggest addition the Dolphins made this offseason was, they would likely answer with Tyreek Hill. It makes sense; Hill has been one of the most effective wide receivers in the NFL over the past few years, and could help fast-track Tua Tagovailoa's development, but the splashiest addition may be [Head Coach] Mike McDaniel.


Adding Hill and several running backs weren't all this front office did, as Miami signed wide receiver Cedrick Wilson from the Dallas Cowboys, signed a new left guard in Connor Williams and added one of the top players in this free agent class in former New Orleans Saints left tackle Terron Armstead.

I understand Tagovailoa is a big question mark and it's no sure thing McDaniel hits the ground running, but this Dolphins team may be the second-best club in the AFC East. [General Manager] Chris Grier has said that his defense has already noticed a difference in the offense during their short time together.

View photos from the Vikings OTA practice which took place on May 31 at the TCO Performance Center.

PFF tabs '3 best players' from each NFL team

Analytics site Pro Football Focus recently took a stab at naming the top three players from each of the 32 NFL teams.

When PFF's Ben Linsey got to Minnesota, he selected Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook and Danielle Hunter. He wrote:

By nearly any metric you want to look at, Jefferson has already established himself as one of the NFL's elite wide receivers in his first two seasons out of LSU. Most notably, he leads all wide receivers in PFF receiving grade against press coverage since 2020 — something he didn't see much of in the slot at LSU. He's joined by Cook on offense, who saw his PFF grade slide from a career-high 89.0 in 2020 to a career-low 65.8 last season in an injury-marred campaign.

Hunter will also be looking to bounce back from injury at his edge defender spot. He tallied 88 quarterback pressures in a career year in 2019 but has played just 384 defensive snaps while recording 31 pressures in the two years since.

Linsey said he also considered Kirk Cousins, Adam Thielen, Za'Darius Smith, Harrison Smith and Brian O'Neill for placement in the top three.

Across the border in the NFC North, Linsey highlighted Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, David Bakhtiari and Jaire Alexander.

View the best photos of Vikings DE Danielle Hunter from the 2021 season.

The Packers lost one of the best players in the NFL (Davante Adams) this offseason and still have a wealth of high-end talent to choose from for this exercise.

Rodgers was an easy choice as the back-to-back MVP who will have more on his shoulders without his No. 1 target in 2022. Bakhtiari and Alexander are returning after missing significant time in 2021 due to injury, but both are top-three players at their position when healthy. That's a lot of talent to get back for a team that was the No. 1 seed in the NFC last season.