I'll give credit where it's due. A lot of well-known NFL experts were on the Minnesota bandwagon entering last season. I thought the Vikings might contend for a wild-card spot but didn't trust Teddy Bridgewater or his receiving group a heck of a lot and thought the NFC North title was a pipe dream. Plus, who knew what Adrian Peterson would be after missing all but one game of the 2015 season due to suspension.
Well, I wasn't wrong about Bridgewater and Co. as the Vikings finished second-to-last in the league in passing. But Peterson was excellent in winning another rushing title. The Vikings rode him and a stellar young defense to a shocking NFC North title, ending the Packers' four-year reign. They did it with a stunning Week 17 upset in Lambeau. Mike Zimmer had a good case for NFL Coach of the Year, but that went to Carolina's Ron Rivera.
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We all know what happened to the Vikings in their home wild-card game outdoors at the University of Minnesota's stadium against Seattle. It was one of the most devastating postseason losses in NFL history -- Minnesota's Blair Walsh doesn't miss that kick indoors. I'm still not sold on Bridgewater, and Peterson is on the wrong side of 30, but that defense is here to stay.
The Vikings were 5-3 on the road last season, 7-1 against the spread and 1-6-1 "over/under." Minnesota visits three playoff teams from a year ago. Now that the Vikings are moving into their new domed stadium, it's likely that only one road game could have wintry conditions: at Green Bay. Minnesota has a wins total of 9.5 for the season, with the over a -130 favorite. I see a 4-4 road record.
Sept. 11 at Titans (+3, 43): Minnesota might want to be extra wary of Tennessee QB Marcus Mariota here; remember what he did in last season's opener in Tampa Bay as a rookie? Current Vikings defensive backs coach Jerry Gray was the Tennessee defensive coordinator from 2011-13. It's the eighth time in nine years that Minnesota opens on the road. Key trend: Vikings are 4-6 ATS in their past 10 September games as a road favorite.
Sept. 25 at Panthers (-5.5): Carolina is off a Week 2 home game vs. San Francisco, while Minnesota opens that new stadium against rival Green Bay on the previous Sunday night. This should be a very physical, low-scoring game. The teams last played Week 13 of 2014 in Minneapolis and the Vikings won 31-13. They returned two blocked punts for touchdowns in the game. It was bitterly cold that day. Key trend: Vikes 6-3-1 ATS in past 10 at NFC South teams.
Oct. 23 at Eagles (+1.5): Philly is off a Week 6 trip to Washington, while this follows Minnesota's bye week. The Vikings have won two straight in the series, last on Dec. 15, 2013, at home, 48-30. Peterson missed that game with an injury and Minnesota QB Matt Cassel had a huge day. Key trend: Vikes are 4-5-1 ATS in past 10 after a bye (any location).
Oct. 31 at Bears (+2.5): Monday night game. Chicago is off a Week 7 Thursday game in Green Bay. The Vikings won at Soldier Field for the first time since 2007 a year ago, 23-20 in Week 8. Peterson ran for 103 yards -- he owns the Bears in his career -- and Walsh hit a 36-yard field goal as time expired. Key trend: Vikes are 3-7 ATS in past 10 as road favorite in series.
Nov. 13 at Redskins (+1.5): Washington comes off its bye week. Minnesota hosts Detroit the previous Sunday. The Vikings have won four of the past five vs. Washington. The last was at home in 2014, a 29-26 victory. Matt Asiata rushed for three touchdowns for the Vikings . Bridgewater threw for 268 yards without a turnover. Key trend: Vikings are 7-3 ATS in past 10 at NFC East teams.
Nov. 24 at Lions (+2.5): Thanksgiving game. Detroit hosts Jacksonville the Sunday before and Minnesota hosts Arizona. Minnesota's last Turkey Day game was in 2000, and the team is 5-1 all-time on the day. The Vikings won in Detroit in Week 7 last year, 28-19, rallying from an 11-point hole. Bridgewater threw for 316 yards and two touchdowns. Minnesota had not previously won a division road game since winning in Detroit on Sept. 30, 2012. Key trend: Vikings have won six straight as road favorites in series (5-5 ATS in past 10 overall in that scenario).
Dec. 11 at Jaguars (+2.5): Jacksonville is off a Week 13 home game vs. Denver, while Minnesota hosts Dallas the Thursday of that week. Bridgewater gets to go against fellow Florida native and co-2014 first-round pick Blake Bortles for the first time here. Key trend: Vikes are 2-8 ATS in past 10 as December road favorite.
Dec. 24 at Packers (-4.5): Green Bay is in Chicago the previous Sunday, while Minnesota hosts Indianapolis. This could certainly have division title ramifications again. As noted, in Week 17 last year Minnesota won in Lambeau 20-13. Bridgewater threw for just 99 yards. Peterson rushed for 67 and a TD, while Captain Munnerlyn returned a third-quarter fumble 55 yards for a TD and a 20-3 lead. Minnesota hadn't won at Green Bay since 2009. Key trend: Vikes are 6-4 ATS in past 10 as road dog of at least 4.5 points in Green Bay.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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