What looked to be a promising 2016 season after five games turned into a forgettable year for the Vikings. But with upgrades on the offensive line, a full offseason in the fold for quarterback Sam Bradford and a potential impact rookie at running back, Minnesota could be an NFC sleeper heading into Week 1.
We know the defense will carry its weight, but will the offense prove playoff-caliber? Let's break it down.
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|Projected wins||In playoffs||Win division||Conference||Super Bowl|
SportsLine projects the Vikings to be right around the same record they turned in last year, and while they're comfortably ahead of the Lions and Bears, Minnesota is roughly two wins behind the projection listed for Green Bay (10.2 wins). However, the wild card is a realistic avenue to the playoffs, with the Vikings looking like a solid shot to be in the mix in December.
|Win total||Playoffs||Division||Conference||Super Bowl|
|8.5 (U -125)||+170||+275||15/1||30/1|
All odds via Westgate.
The sportsbooks have the win total at exactly the right spot according to the projections above, though there's a slight lean on the Under from bettors. Taking the Vikings to make the playoffs is a solid value play at +150 or longer, as is listed here, but there isn't much reason to dream bigger unless a much better price presents itself.
John Breech defends his prediction of Vikings in the playoffs:
After watching the Vikings completely fall apart down the stretch last season, it's easy to forget that this team started 5-0 in 2016. Not only did they start 5-0, but they did it with a starting quarterback who was signed just one week before the season opener, and then they went out and won their first five games, which included wins over four teams that finished the season with a winning record (Titans, Packers, Giants, Texans).
By the time the 2017 season starts, I fully expect Sam Bradford to look slightly better in Minnesota after spending an entire offseason in the Vikings offense. As for that 5-0 start last season, the last team to start a season 5-0 and miss the playoffs was the 2015 Falcons, and guess what they did the next year? Yup, they went to the Super Bowl. There's no reason to think the Vikings can't be a dark horse in the NFC this year.