EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 18th of 32 preseason previews in 32 days leading up to the NFL season opener Thursday, Sept 5.
Win total last 5 years: 41
LVH over/under wins (7½)
The Minnesota Vikings went from 3 wins to 10 and a berth in the playoffs last season, but a repeat would definitely be something to ponder.
The Vikings rode the fabulous comeback season of Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 2,097 yards off major surgery to his left knee. AP is talking about 2,500 yards this season, but the Vikes need Christian Ponder to establish himself at quarterback.
Ponder struggled in November, throwing for just 443 yards in three games and had four turnovers. That kind of inconsistent play plus no longer having Percy Harvin (Seattle) as a weapon could well mean a step back this season. That is the usual pattern when a team improves by more than six wins from the previous season.
The season total over/under wins for Minnesota is 7½ so clearly Vegas isn’t buying last year’s 10 wins. Neither are we. It’s the ebb and flow of today’s NFL where teams can go from 4 wins to 10 depending upon injuries, players stepping up and the luck factor.
The Lions could be this year’s Vikings in the NFC North and if that’s the case in a division with the Packers and Bears, Minnesota fans are in for some disappointment.
For the Vikings to match or improve upon last year’s fine record Ponder has to establish himself as a dependable QB.
Defensively the strength is on the line with the wild man Jared Allen leading the way. That said, the defensive unit ranked in the middle of the 32-team league in points allowed and yards. This must also improve.
Help could come in a draft that Athlon Sports rated an A. Top pick Sharrif Floyd (Florida) will add bulk to the line and corner back Xavier Rhodes (Florida State) should provide instant help in the secondary.
Offensively, losing Harvin is big – although he did miss the final nine games of last season and Minnesota survived. The addition of rookie Cordarrelle Patterson (Tennessee) should help there.
The Vikings open up with two straight division games – Detroit and Chicago both on the road. Then it’s Cleveland at home and Pittsburgh in London.
If they begin 0-4, we’ll Ponder a new QB and possibly the end for head coach Leslie Frazier heading into 2014.
And no, Brett Favre is not unretiring.
Monday: New York Giants
Mark Mayer has over 35 years covering sports events and is the sports editor at GT. Reach him at [email protected].