2009-10 Minnesota Vikings Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 8/11/2009
2008 Record: 10-6 (6-2 H, 4-4 A); won NFC North, lost in wild-card round of playoffs
2008 Against the spread: 6-10 (3-5 H, 3-5 A); 9-7 vs. Total (3-5 H, 6-2 A)
2008 Rankings: 17th Offense (5th Rush, 25th Pass); 6th Defense (1st Rush, 18th Pass)
2009 Odds: 18-1 Super Bowl odds; 15-2 NFC Championship odds; 17-10 NFC North odds; 9 wins (O/U)
The Minnesota Vikings were caught up in all the Brett Favre drama for a second consecutive offseason, with Favre shocking the Vikes by saying he would stay retired. Thus now coach Brad Childress has to convince his players that he really did have faith in the two guys currently battling for the starting job: Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels.
Jackson helped lead Minnesota to the NFC North title last year. He was terrible to start the season and lost his job, but he regained it after saving the Vikings in relief in Week 14 against the winless Lions. In the final three games of the regular season as the starter, Jackson completed at least 61.1 percent in all three, totaling seven TD passes and just one pick. Thus the Vikings were a chic Super Bowl pick heading into last year’s playoffs.
But Jackson then regressed against the Eagles in the postseason opener at the Metrodome, going 15-for-35 for 164 yards, no TDs and one pick as the Vikings were one-and-done. The howls for a new quarterback began in earnest, and Minnesota acquired Rosenfels from Houston. He and Jackson are staging an open competition in camp, but most expect Jackson to win the job because he knows the system, has a bigger arm and is more athletic (he does seem injury prone, however).
If either quarterback can just not make mistakes, this offense should be tremendous behind NFL rushing king Adrian Peterson – the fifth player in NFL history to reach 3,000 yards rushing in his first two seasons. Add in first-round pick Percy Harvin to potential Pro Bowl receiver Bernard Berrian and a very good tight end in Visanthe Shiancoe, and the Vikings have more offensive weapons certainly than anyone in the NFC North.
The defense has been the best in the NFL against the rush for the past three years and should be again with both Pat Williams and Kevin Williams back to clog the middle of the defensive line. It appears those two are not going to have to serve that four-game NFL suspension for testing positive for a banned substance late last year. The NFL is still appealing, but all indications are nothing will happen before the season and that it may drag out into 2010. With star end Jared Allen (14.5 sacks last year), the defensive line is one of the best in the league. The entire defense might be better this year because of the return of linebacker E.J. Henderson, who injured his foot in Week 4 last year and didn’t play again. He was playing the best football of his pro career before going down and is a potential Pro Bowler.
Basically, the Vikings seem set up for a deep playoff run, which the team might need to ensure Childress keeps his job. Despite leading the team to a better record in each of his three seasons, Childress is not popular with the Vikings faithful. So the coach better pick the right starting quarterback this season, because that’s the key to this club in 2009.
Vikings prediction: They finish second to the Chicago Bears in the NFC North but earn a wild-card spot. If Minnesota can avoid one of the NFC East powers (Dallas, Philly or the Giants) in that wild-card game, it should win at least one round. However, it’s hard to see Jackson or Rosenfels getting this team to the Super Bowl. And if Peterson gets hurt, the playoffs are a goner. When making your NFL picks this season remember the Vikings could be a bit undervalued by the bookies since they don’t come into the season with the same buzz they had last season.
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