How Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook’s departure affected Vikings odds

The genesis of the Justin Jefferson era with the Minnesota Vikings did not go the way that fans, analysts, or JJettas himself expected. For years, the Vikings have been hanging on as dark-horse title contenders, consistently dominating the regular season and the NFC North Division, only to continually fall short in the playoffs. Despite their overwhelming talent on both sides of the football, Minnesota never could quite get over the hump. According to sites like MN Betting, the rapid departure of key talents has been the main driving factor between the odds disparity year to year.

How the Minnesota Vikings got here

While most of Minnesotas sports scene seemed to be thriving last year, the opposite can be said for 2023. Despite their immense success on offense, fans of the Vikings have had to watch some of their favorite skill position players come and go in the Twin City. First, Stefon Diggs was traded away and acquired by the Buffalo Bills to become their number one target for franchise quarterback Josh Allen. That deal panned out to be a relatively easy pill to swallow, as it brought back the draft pick that granted the Vikings the rights to Justin Jefferson, a natural replacement for Diggs’s role within the offense from day one. What Minnesota and its fans didn’t realize was that Diggs was just the first domino to fall.

After Diggs’s departure, the remaining two members of Minnesota’s “big three” of the previous era also found their way off of the Vikings. Dalvin Cook left in free agency and joined the New York Jets, hoping to form a powerhouse offense alongside former Super Bowl Champion Aaron Rodgers. Adam Thielen exhausted the totality of his prime years in Minneapolis and eventually signed on with the Tennessee Titans after taking several steps backwards as a playmaker. 

A new era for Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings

Now, quarterback Kirk Cousins looks around and sees a completely different offense than the one he’s grown accustomed to. While Cousins has captained the Vikings to four winning seasons in five tries, he very may well be the sole reason why Minnesota was never able to get over the hump and win it all. 

Surrounded by elite talent, Cousins seemingly did just enough in the regular season to put Minnesota in a great position to pose as a potential title threat but would always shrink in the postseason, leading to short playoff runs year after year. Now, there’s nowhere for Cousins to hide, as his tenure under center with the Vikings has outlived all of his former running mates.

With Jefferson quickly establishing himself as perhaps the most gifted wide receiver in the league, there’s truly nowhere for Kirk Cousins to hide. The offense has been revamped and built around him and JJettas. If he can’t get it done with this new group, his seat will be the next one to catch flames if he doesn’t jump ship before he’s either traded or cut. 

How Week 1 affected Minnesota Vikings betting odds

The league’s analysts, and more importantly, Vegas, still believe that Minnesota has more than enough talent to win games. Before the 2023 season kicked off, the Vikings’ over/under for wins was set at 8.5 games, a clear indication that oddsmakers trusted that the Vikes would be competing for a playoff spot. 

And several high-profile pundits had Cousins, Jefferson, and the rest of Minnesota easily clearing that benchmark. Their Week 1 won’t inspire any confidence, as they dropped what should have been an easy win against the rebuilding Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 20-17. In fact, sportsbooks had the odds for the Vikings making the playoffs this season move significantly to reflect their poor showing against the Bucs.

Before the season began, Minnesota was listed at +270 to be a postseason squad. After their abysmal Week 1 showing, they moved all the way to +410. 

Any bet in the favor of the Vikings being a good team from here on out is really a bet on Kirk Cousins to play well. How great of a bet that is is still to be determined.