The Minnesota Vikings exceeded expectations last year and made the playoffs with a 10-6 record, only to get booted from the post season by the Packers. This year, the Vikings hope to leap into the fray with not only a playoff appearance, but a chance to make some noise in the post season. Here are 6 bold predictions for the purple into the upcoming season.
Christian Ponder Finally Becomes a Franchise Quarterback
Christian Ponder has taken more heat from his own fanbase than any other QB taken in the first round of the 2011 draft. Vikings fans have shown down right disgust at Ponder's inability to run the offense, even as he rolled off four clutch wins at the end of last year to propel the team into the playoffs.
This year, Ponder will come into his own. With the addition of Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson, and more importantly the loss of Michael Jenkins and Devin Aromashodu. Ponder finally has complementary receivers that will propel him to the next level. Look for Ponder to lead the Vikings to not only the playoffs, but to the division title this season.
Harrison Smith Makes the Pro Bowl
Last year, rookie S Harrison Smith made some noise in his rookie season by pushing a referee and getting ejected from the game. This year, the killer hayseed (or Gangster White Boy as Adrian Peterson calls him), will come into his own as one of the top safeties in the NFL. Look for Smith to be a true ball hawking safety for the Vikings and elevate to the next level and make the Pro Bowl.
Cordarrelle Patterson Makes a Bid for Offensive Rookie of the Year
The Vikings traded up in the draft to grab WR Cordarrelle Patterson, and he made an impact on his first play as a Viking, returning the opening kickoff of their first preseason game for 50 yards.
Patterson is still a raw player, but he has the physical gifts to be a great player in the NFL. Patterson will play sparingly in the first few games of the season, as the Vikings coaching staff is smart enough to not rush him into things too quickly. But, as the weeks go by, and he continues to develop, look for this rookie to make a huge impact on the Vikings offense and make a bid for the rookie of the year award.
Adrian Peterson Falls Short of the Rushing Record
Adrian Peterson came back from a torn ACL to not only challenge Eric Dickerson's rushing record, but to rush his way to the League MVP award last season. This year, with a rejuvenated WR corp, Peterson will fall just short of 2,000 yards rushing as teams stack the box to stop him like never before.
Everson Griffen Makes Jared Allen Expendable
This year, the Vikings will continue to rotate Everson Griffen into the lineup at defensive end, and wherever else they can to utilize his incredible skill set. Griffen can rush the pass, stop the run, and drop into coverage as well. With Jared Allen's contract up after this season, the Vikings will be in a position where they can say goodbye if Allen is given a huge offer from another team.
The Vikings Will Have the Best Offensive Line in the League
With the addition of Matt Kalil last season, the Vikings shored up the biggest weakness on their offensive line for the foreseeable future. They also signed Phil Loadholt to a long term contract, and hopefully that will give him the piece of mind to stop jumping offside. With center John Sullivan back health, the Vikings will give Christian Ponder the time and protection that he needs to elevate this team to the next level this season.