After not retaining either Randall Cunningham or Jeff George, the team was led by first-year starting quarterback Daunte Culpepper and running back Robert Smith, who ran for a then team record 1,521 yards and seven touchdowns. The Vikings started out 7–0 and were 11–2 after 14 weeks, but slumped briefly, losing their last three to the Rams, Packers and Colts while Culpepper was hampered by injury.
Despite the rough patch, the Vikings would return to the playoffs again for the fifth straight year. After easily beating the Saints in the Divisional game 34–16, they were humiliated 41–0 by the New York Giants in the Conference Championship, and to top that, Robert Smith retired at the end of the year, after only playing eight NFL seasons. It would be 2004 before the Vikings returned to the playoffs.
After a contract dispute, Hall of Fame defensive tackle John Randle was let go after 11 seasons with the Vikings. Randle had only eight sacks this year, ending a streak of eight consecutive seasons with 10+ sacks.
Seven Vikings including Culpepper, Moss, Carter, Smith, Korey Stringer, Robert Griffith and Matt Birk were selected to play in the Pro Bowl after the season. It was Stringer's only Pro Bowl appearance before his death in 2001.
Note: Intra-division opponents are in bold text.