The Minnesota Vikings finished the 2012 season with a 10-6 record, and ended up losing to the Green Bay Packers in the Wild Card round of the NFC Playoffs.
Minnesota had a busy offseason, and ended up with three first round picks in the 2013 NFL draft. Minnesota also brought in quarterback Matt Cassel, wide receiver Greg Jennings, cornerback Jacob Lacey, and linebacker Desmond Bishop this offseason.
The Vikings parted ways with wide receiver Percy Harvin and cornerback Antoine Winfield, two key pieces on their team last season.
After sneaking into the playoffs last season, the Vikings are looking for an even better 2013. Here is Minnesota’s 2013-2014 season preview.
Running back Adrian Peterson is an absolute stud, and is arguably the best overall player in the NFL right now. Less than a year removed from reconstructive knee surgery, Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards in 2012, just a few yards shy of the all time single season record. If he can stay healthy, he’ll put up colossal numbers again in 2013.
The Vikings offensive success this year will rest solely on the shoulders of starting quarterback Christian Ponder. Ponder started all 16 games last year for Minnesota, and they had the 31st ranked passing attack in the league. That won’t cut it again in 2013. Ponder is more of a game manager type quarterback, but he’ll have to take more shots downfield this year to divert the defenses attention away from Peterson. With opposing teams putting 8 men in the box to stop AD, Ponder will have one-on-one situations on the outside. He just needs to make the plays.
Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson are the two starting receivers according to the Vikings depth chart, but don”t be surprised if rookie wide out Cordarrelle Paterson comes in and ends up starting at some point this season. Patterson has the size and speed to be very effective, but will need time to adjust to the NFL game. Kyle Rudolph is the starting tight end, and he had three times as many touchdowns (9) as any other Vikings receiver in 2012.
Minnesota’s offensive line was decent in 2012, but this unit can definitely play better. They are going to have to give Ponder some more time in the pocket if he’s going to improve this year.
The Vikings defense was good against the run last year (11th in the league), and not very good against the pass (24th in the league).
The Vikings defensive line led by All Pro defensive end Jared Allen is pretty solid all around. Allen and Brian Robison combined for 20.5 sacks in 2012. Kevin Williams
and Letroy Guion play the two defensive tackle positions, and they are more of space eaters than anything else. Williams and Guion combined for only 35 solo tackles in 2012. Their job isn’t to necessarily get to the running back, but rather take on the blockers so the linebackers can get the back. These guys do a pretty good job at doing their job. Rookie Shariff Floyd will provide some nice depth to this unit as well.
Minnesota returns two-thirds of their linebacking core from last season. Chad Greenway, Minnesota’s leading tackler in 2012 (148 tackles), returns to his strong side linebacker spot. Erin Henderson (80 tackles in 2012) returns to his middle linebacker spot, and Marvin Mitchell is slated in to start at the weak side linebacker spot. Mitchell was part of the Vikings last year, but didn’t play that often. Newcomer Desmond Bishop is Mitchell’s backup, and could enter the starting lineup if Mitchell doesn’t perform up to expectations.
The Vikings secondary struggled last year. Josh Robinson and Chris Cook will start at the two cornerback spots, and rookie Xavier Rhodes is the third CB right now. That situation could change at any point during the season as well. Harrison Smith and Jamarca Stanford play the two safety spots, and both of these two put up decent numbers in 2012. Smith was the team’s second leading tackler and was tied for the team lead with 3 interceptions while Stanford finished the year with 66 tackles. This secondary has talent, but its youth and inexperience could be its downfall.
2013 Prediction: 6-10
This team has talent, but plays one of the toughest schedules in the NFL, especially early on. Opponents will continue to put 8 men in the box and make Ponder beat them, and that’s not going to happen. The Vikings will be in a lot of games, but don’t them to sneak up on anyone this year and steal some wins.
Wins: Cleveland, Carolina, @Dallas, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit
Losses: @Detroit, @Chicago, Pittsburgh, @New York (Giants), Green Bay, Washington, @Seattle, @Green Bay, @Baltimore, @Cincinnati