The championship window is wide open and the Minnesota Vikings are doing all they can to take advantage of the opportunity. The Vikings won 13 games last season, tying for the most in the NFL, and advanced to the NFC Championship Game behind a career backup quarterback and the league’s best defense. They replaced the quarterback with the elite arm of Kirk Cousins and the defense returns virtually intact, making the Vikings a serious threat to surpass their projected win total and contend for a Super Bowl title.
Minnesota Vikings Futures Odds at BookMaker.eu
Minnesota Vikings Over 10 Wins -122
Minnesota Vikings Under 10 Wins +101
2018 Minnesota Vikings Offense Preview
As good as Minnesota’s defense was last season it’s easy to forget that the offense wasn’t too shabby. Case Keenum took over for Sam Bradford early in the year and led the Vikes to an average of 357 yards and 24 points per game to rank in the top-third in both categories. With a chance to land Cousins in free agency, the Vikes went for it and got their guy. Cousins has the numbers with three straight seasons of at least 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns. But he also has a losing record as a starter and is 0-1 in the postseason.
John DeFilippo takes over as the new offensive coordinator and he has plenty of skill players at his disposal. Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen form a top pass-catching duo and Kyle Rudolph returns after an ankle injury hampered him late last season. The backfield is bolstered by the return of Dalvin Cook, who should be ready to carry a full load once the season starts. Cook ran for 354 yards before going down with a knee injury in Week 4.
2018 Minnesota Vikings Defense Preview
The Vikings led the league in fewest yards and points allowed in 2017 and the group loses just one starter. Even scarier is that they have something to prove after getting shredded in their last two games. The Vikes allowed 358 yards and 24 points to the Saints in the divisional playoff game, but escaped thanks to the Minnesota Miracle. In the conference championship they were gaped for 456 yards and 38 points by the Eagles.
Take a talented unit at all three levels, throw in some motivation and the Vikings are going to be tough once again. They have a beastly front led by Everson Griffen, who collected 13.0 sacks last season. On the other end is Danielle Hunter, who amassed 7.5 sacks. The linebackers make Mike Zimmer’s defense work and Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks are studs. All-Pro selections Harrison Smith and Xavier Rhodes man the secondary. The group remained remarkably healthy last season with just a handful of missed starts. If they stay healthy again, the group should be just as dominant.
2018 Minnesota Vikings Schedule Analysis
The return of Aaron Rodgers makes Green Bay a top contender in the NFC North. However, the Vikings have the benefit of two games each against rebuilding Chicago and Detroit. The schedule also has them playing the AFC East and NFC West this season, meaning the Jets, Bills and Dolphins are very winnable as are matchups with San Francisco and Arizona.
Two two-game road trips could prove hazardous. The Vikes visit the Rams and have a championship game rematch with the Eagles early in the season. A game with the Patriots is followed by a trip to Seattle later in the year. The bye week comes right in the middle of the schedule and the Vikings end the season with home games against Miami and Chicago with a trip to Detroit squeezed in between.
The Final Verdict
The Vikings are counting on Cousins to get them into their first Super Bowl since the 1976 season, and he has the pieces around him to deliver. Diggs and Thielen are a potent duo, Cook and Latavius Murray form a solid backfield and the line was a huge improvement last season. And with the defense intact, the Vikings could be the best all-around team in the NFL.
They were blessed with remarkably good health last season and that doesn’t always last. The depth will likely be tested at some point, which could be a reason for concern. But the schedule is favorable and Zimmer and his staff have improved the depth on the roster. Not only are the Vikings the favorite to win their division, they are up there to win the NFC and advance to the Super Bowl. You have to win more than 10 games to do that and the Vikings will in 2018.
NFL Odds: Minnesota Vikings Over 10 Wins
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