Football is in the air as all 32 teams get closer to hitting the fields for the 2014 season. Read on for more on the purple-est team in the NFL and check out our complete breakdowns and predictions for the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks while you’re at it.
After a catastrophic season that left the Minnesota Vikings sulking in the bottom of the NFC North, the team clearly needed big changes from top to bottom. They signed key pieces from the free agency and selected future studs in the 2014 NFL Draft, but will these be enough for them to get out of the division’s cellar?[sc:Football ]
Minnesota Vikings Team Preview for the 2014/2015 NFL Season
2013 Regular Season Record: 5-10-1 SU/9-7 ATS
Total disappointment. That’s one way to sum up the 2013 season of the Minnesota Vikings. After making the postseason in 2012, the Vikings ran aground the following year with a dismal 5-10-1 record that left them scraping the bottom of the NFC North division. In 2014, the Vikings are expected to lag behind their division-mates again, as they are priced +1,600 to win the NFC North.
[sc:NFL240banner ]While the Green Bay Packers, the Chicago Bears, and the Detroit Lions were all steeped in a three-way battle for the division title, the Vikings were busy playing the doormat role, winning only once through nine weeks of football.
Following that horrid stretch was a much more decent 4-3-1 SU record to end a frustrating season that saw the Vikings sunk by a sputtering defensive unit that allowed the second-most passing yards at 287.2 per game.
The Vikings’ quarterback situation was, to use a bad pun, offensive in 2013. Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel (team-best 1,807 yards and 11 TDs) and Josh Freeman spun the carousel of bad signal-callers that combined for just 3,427 passing yards, and ranked 23rd in the NFL in a division featuring two of the worst pass defenses in the league.
On the bright side for the Vikings, as always, was running back Adrian Peterson. “All Day” played in just 14 games but still burned rubber for 1,266 yards to finish fifth overall in total rushing yards last season.
The defensive difficulties, along with the team’s quarterback quandary, ultimately led to the axing of head coach Leslie Frazier, and to the hiring of a no-nonsense head coach in Mike Zimmer. The ex-Cincinnati Bengals’ defensive coordinator has a solid track record of transforming a putrid defense into one of the league’s best.
With the Vikings, Zimmer will have to recreate the success he’s had with the Bengals, whose passing and rushing defense both finished fifth in the NFL last season.
The Vikings got Zimmer some new pieces to work on defense by signing defensive tackle Linval Joseph from free agency along with cornerback Captain Munnerlyn. Joseph and the Vikings’ first round pick DE Anthony Barr (UCLA) will try to fill in the void left by Jarred Allen in the pass rush, but those are big shoes to fill.
Munnerlyn, meanwhile, is a welcome addition to the Vikings’ secondary, having posted career-high numbers of 74 tackles and 3.5 sacks last season in Carolina.
Joining Zimmer on the sidelines is new offensive coordinator Norv Turner, who has built an impressive resume by improving the offense of every team he has coordinated for. With Turner being handed the reins for the team’s offense, the Vikings have already taken a big step away from their forgettable 2013 season.
Turner will be instrumental in sorting out who’ll be the Vikings starting QB with Ponder, Cassel, and rookie Teddy Bridgewater. Whether the job lands on Bridgewater’s lap or not, Turner’s proven success in nurturing young slingers is going to be big for the ex-Louisville quarterback and for the Vikings’ future, too.
Key Betting Matchups of 2014 NFL Season
The Vikings’ schedule include dates with four teams that made the Playoffs last season, including the New England Patriots, the New Orleans Saints, the Carolina Panthers, and the Green Bay Packers.
September 7 – @ St. Louis
After going winless in eight road games last season, Minnesota travels to St. Louis to see if they can finally get one against a tough NFC West team. Making this game even more interesting is the Rams’ defense – one of the best in the NFL – which poses an early acid test for Norv Turner and the Vikings’ offense. The over is 4-0 in Minnesota’s last four road games.
September 14 – vs. New England
For their home opener, the Vikings welcome Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Rough. Minnesota, though, are 4-0 SU and ATS in their last four games at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.
The Vikings are going to be an improved squad, but only marginally. This season won’t be a winning one, as Minnesota finishes with a 6-10 SU record for a push with their regular season wins line of 6.0. Create a betting account now to get into all the NFL action in 2014.[sc:NFL490Banner ]
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