As fun as other sports are to watch, there is something special about the NFL. It is simply impossible for other sports to replicate the importance that each NFL game has. One loss might derail your entire season. It is hard to feel that affect with 82 games, let alone 162.
This Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings take the field in their home opener for the 2019 season against the Atlanta Falcons. There is no doubt that US Bank Stadium will be rocking as naive fans will fill the seats hoping that this year will be different. Being from Minnesota we should know better, but what fun is it to be realistic?
To be fair to Vikings fans, it isn’t the craziest idea that there is at least a chance. Minnesota currently is 14th in the league at +2800 for their Super Bowl odds which isn’t terrible value in my opinion.
There are a few reasons to be optimistic. First, Minnesota brings back almost all of their defensive players that have been key to the team’s success the past few years. After finishing 1st in defensive scoring in 2017/18, the Vikings regressed to 9th last season. A healthy Everson Griffen and Mike Hughes along with the returning starters should be able to return the unit to the top five in the NFL.
Second, the offense has (hopefully) been rebuilt for the better. The Vikings brought in an entirely new offensive scheme based on running the ball effectively, an offense that Kirk Cousins has thrived in. Gary Kubiak is sure to have his hand in the offense helping first time Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski find his footing.
Throw in a healthy (hopefully) Dalvin Cook and a (hopefully) improved offensive line, and this offense should be good enough to control the ball, limit turnovers and score enough points for the defense.
I am going to preview the Vikings season a little differently than how I did it last week with the Gophers. When looking at the schedule, you usually can chalk up each game into one of three categories: Tough to Win, 50/50 Games, and Should Win. Let’s see how each category shakes out.
Should Win: vs Raiders, at Giants, at Lions, vs Redskins and vs Lions. Granted, the Vikings lost at home to Buffalo last year in what was the biggest upset against the spread in like 30 years in the NFL, but I digress. 5-0
50/50 Games: vs Falcons, vs Eagles, vs Broncos, vs Bears, vs Packers, at Chargers. These are tricky for various reasons. The Falcons, Eagles and Chargers are good teams that have realistic playoff aspirations, the Broncos always bring a tough defense, and the Bears and the Packers are pesky no matter when or where the game is. Let’s say 3-3 in these games.
Tough to Win: at Packers, at Bears, at Chiefs, at Cowboys, at Seahawks. Those are some very difficult away games for Minnesota. The Chiefs are Super Bowl favorites, the Seahawks and Cowboys are legitimate 2-seed contenders and Soldier and Lambeau Field aren’t always the kindest to the Vikings. Let’s say the Vikings sneak out two victories. 2-3.
After sorting these games out, it looks like I got to a 10-6 record. It really isn’t much of a spicy take to have, but I don’t think the Vikings have a high variability for their record. They most likely will finish with between 7-10 wins along with both the Packers and the Bears. Week 16 and 17 will definitely be the defining games of the season for Minnesota, as they play the Packers and Bears at home. Hopefully they are still in the race for the NFC North at that point, or even better yet, hopefully they have it clinched.