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Lions and Packers’ playoff success underscores importance of Vikings’ offseason

The Vikings won the division by a margin of four full games in 2022, going 13-4 and securing the NFC North title. The remaining three clubs were all at least four games behind.500 in one particular year. Minnesota owned the division, for the time being, at least. Those days are long gone now, just a year later.

They are not only no longer in control of the North, but they also run the prospect of collapsing into what appears to be a heavy division in the bottom. With the victories by the Packers and Lions on Sunday, two of the four NFC teams participating in the playoffs the following weekend will be from the North.

The Vikings are in the following situation: Two of the three other teams in their division are very strong and seem destined for long-term success, while the third possesses the first overall choice in April. The significance of this offseason in Minnesota is further highlighted by that setting. The Vikings need to find a way to stay ahead of this growing division.

The Packers began play on Sunday to Texas and defeating the Cowboys, who were ranked second. They were ahead 48–16 in the fourth quarter, and the final score was somewhat more reasonable after a pair of late scores from Dallas.

Aaron Jones rushed for 118 yards and three touchdowns, Jordan Love had three touchdowns and a nearly flawless passing rating, and the much-maligned Packers defense intercepted Dak Prescott twice.

Since the playoffs’ expansion in 2020, Green Bay has emerged as the first team ranked seventh to win a game. The divisional round matchup against the top-seeded 49ers in San Francisco is the next on the schedule. It’s possible that the Packers have another outstanding quarterback on their hands.

The Lions defeated the Rams and old friend Matthew Stafford in a thrilling 24-23 victory in the nightcap, their first postseason triumph since 1991. Detroit will play another home postseason game against the Eagles or Buccaneers the following weekend as a result of the Packers’ surprising victory.

The fact that both teams appear ready to be extremely good for a time has to worry Vikings fans. With a wealth of youthful talent on both sides of the ball, the Lions won 12 games this season.

Dan Campbell appears to be a superb leader, and Brad Holmes has been a tremendous draft pick. This is especially helpful considering offensive coordinator Ben Johnson might be hired as a head coach this offseason. It’s likely that Jared Goff’s contract will be extended soon.

Meanwhile, the Packers may have a terrific quarterback for the third time in a row.

Love performed admirably in the final stretch of the regular season and was extremely precise in his play against the Cowboys, executing passes off of his back foot the entire time, much like his predecessor Aaron Rodgers did. The Bears, who have won four of their last six games this season, should also not be overlooked.

They have an abundance of valuable assets, including this year’s No. 1 overall pick, the No. 9 pick, and a ton of cap room (the Lions also have a ton of cap space). Chicago can either keep Justin Fields and trade the #1 pick for a king’s ransom for a second consecutive year, or trade Fields and take Caleb Williams or Drake Maye.

Their future will be incredibly bright if they make the correct choice there. What is the outcome for the Vikings then? Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell are having a huge offseason after a poor 7–10 season in the last year of their quarterback contract.

That doesn’t alter if the Packers and Lions win on Sunday, but it does highlight how important the choices that lay ahead are. The Vikings run the risk of falling behind as the NFC North turns into an arms race. This implies that the current state of affairs may not be satisfactory.

In an attempt to enhance the squad on the margins and try to run it again next season with better fortune in terms of injuries and turnovers, the Vikings could re-sign Kirk Cousins. But would that strategy actually make a difference in this division?

The Vikings may need to make some changes and take a big swing in order to stay competitive. Perhaps it’s time to move up in the draft to choose Jayden Daniels and hope he can turn into what Love has turned into for the Packers.

Of course there would be a risk. However, the Vikings might discover that it’s a danger they must accept if they are observing the division around them.

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