Two years removed from a surprising NFC North division title, and a botched chip shot field goal in the playoffs (sorry Blair Walsh), the Minnesota Vikings are looking for another surprise run in the NFC North. With Sam Bradford most likely at the helm for a lackluster Minnesota offense, it looks to be another mediocre year for the “Purple People Eaters.” However, don’t count Minnesota out as they always seem to make the NFC North a little bit interesting almost every year. Take last season for example, until the Packers destroyed Minnesota at Lambeau Field on Christmas Eve, the Vikings were in the hunt along with Green Bay and Detroit for the NFC North title, with a pair of wins and some help, they had a chance to sneak into the Playoffs, and that may once again be the case this year as their schedule does look promising.
It will be hard, however, with almost no star power on offense. While star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is an unlikely bet to even appear in the 2017 season, they will have to rely on Sam Bradford to run the show in Minneapolis. Lets just say Bradford doesn’t quite compare to other quarterbacks in the NFC North. Speaking of that, as stated in an earlier article, in the NFC North, you need an elite quarterback in order to compete. The Packers have Aaron Rodgers, and the Lions have Matthew Stafford, obviously. With the exception of 2015, it has come down to which star quarterback will lead their team into the playoffs as the NFC North champion.
The Vikings did lose long time running back Adrian Peterson in Free Agency, a devastating blow to an already terrible offense, but the Vikings did pick up Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray, however, he is nowhere as elite as Adrian Peterson was in his prime. The Vikings also drafted Florida State running back Dalvin Cook, who is poised to make an immediate impact for Minnesota.
As stated earlier, the Vikings drafted running back Dalvin Cook with their second round selection in the 2017 draft. Because of the trade they made for quarterback Sam Bradford last season after Teddy Bridgewater went down with an absolutely gruesome injury, they gave up their first round selection to get a quarterback in a hurry. That trade will cost the Vikings in the long run as there were some players at the 14th overall spot (where they would have drafted, if they did not trade their pick) that could have made a huge impact on the offensive side for Minnesota. Those players include, tight ends O.J Howard and Evan Engram, and offensive tackle Garrett Bolles. Those three could have helped a struggling Minnesota offense, instead the Vikings traded for a mediocre quarterback in Sam Bradford, who also had a lackluster 2016 season.
The Vikings defense has shown signs of greatness, which makes up for its mediocre offense in some ways. They have shown the world that it can hold its own against some of the NFL’s best offenses in years past. Led by the likes of Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Xavier Rhodes, Harrison Smith, and Everson Griffen, this franchise has a great defense in place, it is now time to place more emphasis on the offense in order to get over the hump.
Looking at the 2017 schedule for the Vikings, it is really hard to predict anymore than ten wins, and it will most likely take more than ten wins to be the champions of the NFC North this season. The Vikings should be able to sweep the season series against the projected cellar dweller of the NFC North, the Chicago Bears. A win against Detroit or Green Bay is not out of the question either, but it will be a difficult challenge, especially against projected front runner, the Green Bay Packers. The Vikings play a lot of teams who are considered “mid-tier” teams this year, so, it is very possible the Vikings end up with somewhere between seven to ten wins this season.
Make sure to check out my Chicago Bears season preview as well. Also, stay tuned to Cream City Central and myself on Twitter for the announcement of the final installment of this series as I preview the upcoming season for the Detroit Lions.