The thing about this season is that the Minnesota Vikings just have to get a little better than last year to win a lot more games. Consider the games the Vikings lost last year:
- In September, the Vikings lost to the Bears, 16-19
- In October, the Vikings lost to the Bills, 17-12
- and to the Patriots, 7-31
- In November, the Vikings lost to the 49ers, 9-3
- to the Packers, 17-23
- and to the Dolphins, 24-20
- In December, the Vikings lost to the Bears again, 23-13
- to the Jets, 13-26
- again to the Packers, 9-7
- and to the Rams, 21-41
The two games against the Packers and Bears each were winnable. The margins of victory for each of those four games were 3 points, 6 points, 10 points, and 2 points. The Vikings lost to the Bills by 5 points; to the 49ers by 6 points; and to the Dolphins by four point.
Instead of 6 and 10, they could have easily been 10 and 6 and division winners.
But the defense, of course, wasn’t the problem last year. The offense was.
We improved on offense significantly with the addition of Adrian Peterson. I am officially a converted fan of Bobby Wade, who has proven very adept at making yards after the catch. Robert Ferguson is a great addition if he can stay healthy. Sidney Rice is a nice big target who has shown he’s got good hands, is not afraid to catch the ball in a crowd, is very athletic and has excellent body control. And if we can get Troy Williamson to catch a few long bombs, we’ll at least have the semblance of a deep threat.
The offensive line returns with one year together playing the zone blocking scheme, so they’ve got to improve simply because they are more familiar with one another and with zone blocking.
The big question is Tarvaris Jackson. He looks very poised and by all accounts is a smart kid, a quick study, and a quick decision maker. The main thing for Jackson is to avoid mistakes, which is to say turnovers, while he learns the ropes.
The most glaring weakness of this team is the coverage units, which are absolutely horrible. I’m not too confident that they’ll improve that much.
Looking at the schedule, I think it’s reasonable to think that the Vikings could go 9-7 or even 10-6 this year. I’m giving the Vikings both games against the Detroit Lions, even with Calvin Johnson. That team has to prove to me they can win, cause they’ve never done it before. I’d split the Chicago Bears series as I would the Green Bay Packers series, though I think the Vikings could sweep them as well.
So that’s eight wins.
The Kansas City Chiefs are beatable with Damon Huard at QB. The Dallas Cowboys are beatable. They’ve got a rookie coach and we don’t yet know whether Tony Romo is the real thing. The San Francisco 49ers and the Denver Broncos look as if they will be good, but they’re sorta at that stage where it’s too early to tell. Even the Eagles could be beatable because you never know if Donovan McNabb will be healthy.
Thee only guaranteed loss is to the San Diego Chargers.