NFC North Preview: Minnesota Vikings

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by Andrew Coughlin

Projected 2011 Finish: 4th NFC North

Projected 2011 Record: 7 - 9

2010 Record: 6 -10

Believe it or not, at the start of last season the Minnesota Vikings were not only division favorites, they were Super Bowl contenders.  What a difference a year makes.

Brett Favre is out and Donovan McNabb is in to "plug the hole", if you will, until the Vikings can groom a "quarterback of the future".  I wouldn't count out the Minnesota Vikings. Their defense, although a bit older, is still very tough.   And don't forget they have, in my opinion, the best RB in the league in Adrian Peterson.

Offense

Apart from two substantial departures at QB and Left Tackle, this offense comes back with pretty much the full unit they had last season.  I know, I know, those are two very key positions on offense, but they get younger at Left Tackle with Charlie Johnson and Brett Favre's Superman impression finally stopped working.

It was because of Favre that the Vikings haven't developed a young QB to take over the reins of the team.  Don't get me wrong, a team could worse than McNabb as a mentor and plug-in guy.  Although, it seems to me that the Vikings became desperate and reached about as far as they could have in last years' draft when they took Christian Ponder 12th overall.  It felt as though the organization absolutely needed to draft a QB, any QB and it needed to be in the first round no matter whom it was.  Who knows?  Maybe Ponder exceeds expectations like Aaron Rodgers and everyone applauds the pick three years from now.

Peterson is going to get a lot of carries.  Coach Leslie Frasier ought to have learned from Brad Childress' mistakes.  The past two seasons Peterson's carries/game average was just above 19 carries.  In 2008 he averaged just under 23 carries/game, the most in his career and he gained over 1,700 yards on the ground that season with an average of 110 yds/game.  But its risky, because that same season he had a career high in fumbles with nine.  If Coach Frasier is confident he can hang on to the ball there should be no reason that Peterson have well over 300 carries for the season.

Defense

The Vikings defense has the talent, along with some heavy years in age, to be very unpredictable this season.  Apart from Antoine Winfield, in his 13th season, the secondary is young, but also with some experience behind it.  They get Cedric Griffin back from injury and have a new starter at SS in Jamarca Sanford.

Instead of the Williams boys on the defensive line, we get the Henderson "brothers" at MLB and OLB.  Chad Greenway is one of the better, smarter OLB in the NFL as well.  Greenway had 144 combined tackles last season.

The defensive line will certainly be the mystery here on defense for the Vikings this season.  DE Ray Edwards went to Atlanta, DT Pat Williams is gone, DT Kevin Williams is suspended indefinitely.  That leaves Neanderthal/caveman Jared Allen as the remaining member in what was as formidable a 4-3 defensive line you could get in the NFL.

 

This Minnesota team has the talent to be a decent football club this year, but gone are the past few seasons when they've looked like the dominant team in the division.  The playoffs aren't out of the question, but I would be very surprised if they did indeed make it.  The Vikings will be competitive though, stealing one or two games from within the division.  I have them finishing 7 - 9, which is just one game better than last season.  It is easy to forget that the Vikings finished 6 - 10, tied for last in the division.  Let's hope this team has forgotten about last year too.

 

 

 

 

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