The Minnesota Vikings came onto the NFL Scene last year and made it known they wanted to be year in year out contenders. Last year the team made it all the way to the NFC Championship with Case Keenum as there QB. Although they lost Keenum to the Broncos in free agency and OC Pat Shurmur to the Giants they filled those holes quickly. With former Philly QB coach John Defilippo, who was largely credited for Carson Wentz’s break out MVP Season last year, and top free agent QB Kirk Cousins. The Vikings are in their super bowl window right now, will they take advantage of it?
It all starts with the addition of new QB Kirk Cousins. Cousins was sought after by the Browns, Broncos, Jets, Cardinals, and Bills but chose the best available option, the Minnesota Vikings. There is a lot of debate as to where Cousins ranks in the spectrum of NFL signal callers. I would put him in the top 15 for sure but after some serious reconsideration I do not believe him to be a top ten QB. Cousins struggles with turnovers and is quintessentially Keenum at his best on his most average day. The Vikings went out and found a more consistent Case Keenum. If Cousins performs at the top of his game though I wouldn’t be shocked if at the end of this year he is considered a top 10 QB. He needs to focus on throwing fewer interceptions and showing up for big games to do so.
Cousins certainly has the targets to be an upper echelon QB. Adam Thielen put himself on the map of top NFL wideouts last year. Pair him with Stefon Diggs and the Vikings arguably have the best one-two receiving punch in the NFC North. Outside of those two though the depth at wideout is thin for the Vikings. Kendall Wright shows flashes but generally underachieves and Laquon Treadwell seems to be a bust. The Vikings will again rely heavily on Kyle Rudolph to be the third pass catcher of the group. Thielen and Diggs’s talent overshadow the lack of depth on the roster though. The receiving core should be just fine in Minnesota this year.
Returning to Minnesota is also last years break out running back star Dalvin Cook. Cook dazzled last year before tragically tearing his ACL. If he had his full rookie year he would have had my vote for rookie of the year. Though it is right to be concerned about a running back coming off an ACL I believe Cook won’t be a workhorse back early. Latavius Murray is still a good running back who can take pressure off Cook early but expect Cook to be the main back by week four or five. The Vikings running game may suffer early though. The passing of o line coach Tony Sporano was tragic but it also left a great offensive line without there mastermind. How will the Vikings line especially on the left side react and adapt to a new coach?
The Vikings true strong suit though remains defense. They add Sheldon Richardson to create the deepest and best defensive line in the NFC North. Pair that with a linebacking core of Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks and you have one of the best-run stuffing and pass rushing front sevens in the league. Then you look at the secondary jam-packed with stars like Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith and you wonder how anyone is going to score on this defense. In my opinion, this is the best defense in the league hands down. If they can perform like they did last year there is no reason this couldn’t rival the Broncos 2015 defense as one of the best defenses we have seen in recent history.
The Vikings will always have the stink of a cursed sports city on them. However, the team has tremendous potential. If they don’t make the playoffs jobs should be lost in Minnesota.
Record Prediction: 12-4