The Vikings are considered to be the favorite in the NFC North, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) season projections released on Monday. That is the good news. The not-as-good news is that the FPI has the Vikings ranked 13th in the NFL with a projected 8.6 wins and a 54 percent chance to make the postseason.
Ahead of the Vikings are Kansas City (projected with 11.2 wins and a 94 percent chance to reach the playoffs); Baltimore (11.0 wins, 92 percent); San Francisco (10.2 wins, 81 percent); New Orleans (10.2 wins, 83 percent); Dallas (9.3 wins, 69 percent); Philadelphia (9.1 wins, 66 percent); Seattle (8.9 wins, 58 percent); Tampa Bay (9.1 wins, 63 percent); New England (8.6 wins, 60 percent); Buffalo (8.6 wins, 60 percent); the Los Angeles Rams (8.3 wins, 45 percent); and Pittsburgh (8.8 wins, 58 percent).
The Vikings are ahead of division rival Green Bay (8.1 wins, 43 percent) by two spots — Indianapolis (8.6 wins, 58 percent) is 14th — while Chicago (8.0 wins, 41 percent) is 21st and Detroit (6.6 wins, 17 percent) is 28th.
As far as Super Bowl favorites, FPI has the defending champion Chiefs atop the field with a 21 percent chance to repeat. The Chiefs also were the preseason favorite by FPI last season with a 15 percent chance to win the championship. The Ravens are second with a 17 percent chance to win the title, while New Orleans is third at 13 percent. San Francisco is at 12 percent and the fifth team is the Dallas Cowboys and first-year coach Mike McCarthy at 5 percent.
The respect given to the Chiefs, Ravens, Saints and 49ers isn’t surprising but Dallas? ESPN’s Seth Walder explains that FPI’s odds for the Cowboys remain consistent.
“Despite the mediocre .500 record, the Cowboys finished the 2019 season as FPI’s seventh-ranked team. That was fueled almost exclusively by the team’s offense, which finished third in efficiency, while the defense was merely average. The Cowboys didn’t win enough, but they were good enough.”
The Vikings, meanwhile, are given a 5.1 percent chance to make the Super Bowl and a 2 percent chance to win it.
Walder explains that preseason ratings are based on each team’s Las Vegas win total; last season’s performance on offense, defense and special teams; the number of returning starters; coaching staff changes; and starting and backup quarterbacks.
The FPI ratings released last May by ESPN had the Vikings in the 11th spot with a projected 8.5 wins and 44.8 percent chance to make the playoffs. The Vikings finished 10-6 and beat the Saints in the opening round of the playoffs before being eliminated by the 49ers.