With first place finishes atop the NFC North two of the last three seasons, the 2018 Minnesota Vikings will take the field with a settle to score after getting embarrassed by the Eagles in last year’s NFC championship game. Since Mike Zimmer took over the reins in the Twin Cities, the Vikings have produced 7-9, 11-5, 8-8 and 13-3 records. If this season is to follow the same pattern, could Minnesota be on the verge of making a ton of futures bettors extremely unhappy.
Minnesota is one of only six teams with a season win total of at least 10, and that’s exactly where it currently sits with nominal juice riding both sides of the number. In winning 13 games a short season ago, the Vikings rode the league’s No. 1 ranked overall and scoring defense to a deep run in the playoffs. The offense also proved to be the franchise’s finest unit in years ranking No. 11 and 10 in total and scoring offense respectively.
That was with Case Keenum leading the charge. He’s now making his home in Denver in hopes of revitalizing the Broncos offensive attack muck like he did for the purple and gold last season. His departure opened the door for Kirk Cousins to get paid, and that’s exactly what Minnesota did by inking him to a three-year, $84 million deal in the offseason.
Only the Patriots ( +655 ), Eagles ( +705 ) and Rams ( +970 ) have shorter odds than the Vikings ( +1050 ) to win Super Bowl LII heading into the regular season. They also sit behind both NFC entrants to win the conference ( +535 ), and are the odds on +114 favorite to hold off the Packers, Lions and Bears for NFC north supremacy.
A whopping 19 of 22 starters return from last year’s NFC title game squad. Dalvin Cook is said to be once again healthy to wreak havoc out of the backfield. Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen return as the primary pass catchers. Add the additions of Cousins and new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo who called the offensive shots in Philly last season, and Minny looks stacked on paper on the offensive side of the ball.
That can only bode well for the team in the long run considering the defense remains one of the best if not the best in the league. Upper management resigned a bunch of its defensive playmakers in the offseason, and added to the unit’s depth in the draft.
Due to dominating last season, the Vikings 2018 schedule is far from a care free walk in the park. The beginning of it is tough as nails with Jimmy G and the Niners paying them a visit Week 1 followed by trips to the Packers, Rams and Vikings. There’s also visits to New England and Seattle scheduled later in the season. But if the team can make the most of its intense home field advantage, Minnesota shouldn’t have much of a problem surpassing its season win total this year. Remember, the only game lost in front of the hometown faithful last season was the one Dalvin Cook went down in against Detroit.
There’s unfinished business for the Vikings in 2018, and I fully expect them to live up to expectations and win the division a second straight season. Maybe this time, they see it all the way through.
Week 1: 49ers at Vikings, Sunday, September 9, 1 p.m. ET – FOX
Week 2: Vikings at Packers, Sunday, September 16, 1 p.m. ET – FOX
Week 3: Bills at Vikings, Sunday, September 23, 1 p.m. ET – CBS
Week 4: Vikings at Rams, Thursday, September 27, 8:20 p.m. ET – FOX/NFL Network
Week 5: Vikings at Eagles, Sunday, October 7, 4:25 p.m. ET – FOX
Week 6: Cardinals at Vikings, Sunday, October 14, 1 p.m. ET – FOX
Week 7: Vikings at Jets, Sunday, October 21, 1 p.m. ET – FOX
Week 8: Saints at Vikings, Sunday, October 28, 8:20 p.m. ET – NBC
Week 9: Lions at Vikings, Sunday, November 4, 1 p.m. ET – FOX
Week 10: Bye Week
Week 11: Vikings at Bears, Sunday, November 18, 1 p.m. ET – FOX
Week 12: Packers at Vikings, Sunday, November 25, 8:20 p.m. ET – NBC
Week 13: Vikings at Patriots, Sunday, December 2, 4:25 p.m. ET – FOX
Week 14: Vikings at Seahawks, Monday, December 10, 8:15 p.m. ET – ESPN
Week 15: Dolphins at Vikings, Sunday, December 16, 1 p.m. ET – CBS
Week 16: Vikings at Lions, Sunday, December 23, 1 p.m. ET – FOX
Week 17: Bears at Vikings, Sunday, December 30, 1 p.m. ET – FOX
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