Kyle RudolphThe Vikings finished last season at an abysmal 3-13, 3rd worst in the league. 

Their passing game and their defense were terrible, and their star running back tore both his ACL and MCL on Christmas Eve.

But this is a new season, and every team starts off with an equal opportunity to prove themselves. 

For the Vikings, this year is NOT the year.

However, that does not mean that their games are not worth watching.

I believe in looking at things from a long-term perspective, both as a fan and a fantasy owner. 

The players on this team appear to be the stars of tomorrow.

It starts with Christian Ponder, the second-year veteran who was 12th overall in last year's Draft, moves to Kyle Rudolph, one of the trendy "sleeper" tight ends in fantasy right now, and rounds out with Matt Kalil, the tackle the Vikings chose fourth in the Draft. Greg Childs would be included in this list, but his injury will prevent him from appearing as a factor this year.

There is also underrated free agent acquisition Jerome Simpson, best known for his flip into the end zone in Week 16 last year. The highlight and his three-game suspension overshadow the fact that when Cincinnati's star rookie receiver was hurt, Simpson stepped up and played like a true starting WR, which should have earned him a bigger contract than the one-year deal for $2 million he got.

And of course, Toby Gerhart makes a solid backup to Adrian Peterson, in case Peterson has trouble returning from his injury. 

Factor in Jared Allen, who should have plenty left in the tank despite his age, and Percy Harvin, whose issues with the team during the offseason appear to be the now-resolved desire to be on the field more often, and this team has a blend of established veterans and young talent that makes it a team to watch.

This year will be about Ponder growing comfortable in the pocket and establishing timing with his receivers now that he is the starter, and not just being thrown in there for experience when Plan A fails. 

It is also about the defense learning the basics of their new scheme, since Alan Williams was hired away from the Indianapolis Colts by the Vikings this offseason to be the defensive coordinator.

During the course of the season, this team will make mistakes. 

How they correct them, and how quickly they adjust to wrinkles the opposition throws at them, will be a measure of just how great they can be next year.

And this time, the Vikings are establishing a team that will be good for more than just a year that an aging veteran who should have stayed retired can give them. 

This team will be the next power to rise in the NFC, just like their rivals, the Packers and Lions.

But it all starts with the lessons they learn this year, so don't fall asleep on them, even if it doesn't seem like they have a chance to win.

The author of this article is a Cowboys fan, but not a hater (except the Eagles). You can follow him on Twitter (@RGDSports) or Facebook (

He also welcomes any and all comments, from hilarious rage to thought provoking data, commentary, and rebuttals.