The 2012 Minnesota Vikings will be a much better team then they were in 2011.
The Vikings had one of the best drafts in 2012. By selecting Matt Kalil to protect Christian Ponder's blindside, the Vikings ensured that no pass-rusher will easily get to their second-year quarterback every down. Safety Harrison Smith will give the Vikings a talented safety for the first time since 2008. Josh Robinson will help against slot receivers on defense. Jarius Wright and Greg Childs will prove as valued weapons in Ponder's arsenal.
Let's take a look at how the Vikings will do in 2012 with their new players.
The Vikings are slated to start the season against the Jacksonville Jaguars at home. This match should be pretty interesting. The storyline in this matchup will likely revolve around the two quarterbacks selected in the first round in the 2011 NFL draft, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder.
This will also be the first match of Justin Blackmon's young career. Unfortunately for Blackmon and the Jaguars, the Vikings do not have a bunch of scrubs in their secondary this season. With Chris Cook, a healthy Antoine Winfield, newly acquired safety Harrison Smith and the rest of the revamped secondary, the Vikings will make Blackmon's debut game a tough one.
Prediction: Vikings win 28-13
In Week 2, the Vikings will travel to Indianapolis to face the Andrew Luck and the Colts in Luck's first start in Indianapolis. The crowd is going to make this stadium louder than ever when they welcome in Luck for the first time in a regular season game.
This match might be a fun one to watch because both teams are equally matched at this point. However, the Vikings have a bit of an edge because of the running game and newly revamped offensive line.
The two young quarterbacks, Luck and Christian Ponder, will face for the first time in their young careers. This should be one of the most interesting matches of the week in the NFL. However, the Vikes will barely squeak by because of a stronger rushing attack.
Prediction: Vikings win 21-17
In Week 3 the Vikings host the San Francisco 49ers. This match is by far the hardest of the season so far for the team. The 49ers are looking to repeat as NFC West division champions while the Vikings are trying to get out of the cellar in the NFC North. This won't be a very exciting match. The Vikings will likely get blown out.
This is the first time Randy Moss will ever play against the Vikings. Expect for a inspired performance from the "Superfreak" against his the team that cut him in 2010.
Even though the Vikings had a great draft, they are nowhere near the level of talent the 49ers are at.
Prediction: Vikings lose 38-14
Minnesota will travel to Detroit in their first matchup against a division rival. The Lions defeated the Vikings twice last season, but neither match was won in decisive fashion. This could be the first upset of the season for the Vikings.
New rookie Josh Robinson will have his hands full with Titus Young while Chris Cook is trying to lock down Calvin Johnson in this game. With Harrison Smith over the top as well, the Vikings may be able to contain "Megatron."
This will be the first and likely only upset of the season for the Vikings.
Prediction: Vikings win 28-24
Adrian Peterson should be back by Week 1, so there is no reason to believe he won't be playing in this game barring any type of setback or aggravated injury.
The matchup between he and Chris Johnson should be an exciting one in Minnesota. These two are still the two premier running backs in the game, and there will be a lot of eyes watching this game to see which one plays better. If Jake Locker starts, the quarterback battle between the two rookies from 2011 should be very interesting as well.
Both teams match up pretty evenly, and this game should come down to the wire.
Prediction: Vikings win 24-21
The battle between the Vikings and Redskins should be a fun one to watch. Both teams are evenly matched and the Ponder-RG3 matchup should be exciting. This match will be very similar to the Week 2 game with the Colts.
Even though the Vikings fixed up their secondary and got some depth at the linebacker position, their defense is not prepared to stop a running quarterback like RG3. They will have their hands full with the rookie, and they won't come out the winners here.
Prediction: Vikings lose 24-21
In Week 7 the Arizona Cardinals will fly up to Minnesota and take on the Vikings. The Vikings and Cardinals have played each other every year since 2009, and the Vikings have won two of the last three. This will be another exciting match, but don't expect for it to be a blowout like it was last season.
Kevin Kolb is going to have one more weapon in Michael Floyd, but that does not mean he will maximize his potential. The Vikings don't have the same beat-up secondary that they did last year, and the five new players they acquired should be enough to stop Larry Fitzgerald and the Cardinals pass attack.
Prediction: Vikings win 27-17
In the first Thursday night football game for the Vikings in six years, the team will face Tampa Bay at home.
Minnesota is looking for redemption against this team because of the way they ripped the Vikings' hearts out last season when they came back from a 17-0 deficit in the second half.
This match should be very close. However, the Buccaneers did a lot in the offseason during free agency and the draft to sure up their entire squad. They might be a playoff contender and too much for the Vikings to handle.
Prediction: Vikings lose 24-14
If you are a diehard Viking fan, then this should be one of the matches that are circled on your calendar.
This match should be circled by every single Viking fan because of one reason, Sidney Rice. Rice left the Vikings in the offseason in 2011 to play for the Seahawks. The team will travel to Seattle to face him with his new team.
If Rice is healthy, expect for him to have a really hard time against third-year cornerback Chris Cook and rookie safety Harrison Smith over the top. This should be a very interesting matchup. Don't be surprised if the Vikings leave Seattle with a victory.
Prediction: Vikings win 31-28
The Lions will come to Minnesota and look to pick up a quick victory against the team. The Vikings may have upset the Lions in Week 4, but there will not be an upset here. The Lions will be looking at the playoff seeding at this point while the Vikings are struggling for a wild-card spot.
Prediction: Vikings lose 31-17
The Bears have beat the Vikings five times in a row. Don't expect anything different here. Julius Peppers won't be in front of Christian Ponder's face every down like he was last season because of Matt Kalil's blindside protection. However, the Bears are stacked on offense and defense for the first time in years. This will be a scary team.
The Bears may win the division this season, and the Vikings might not have much to say about it.
Prediction: Vikings lose 31-14
Christian Ponder and company will visit Green Bay Week 13 and try to steal a game.
Unfortunately for him, the Vikings have lost to them four times in a row, and not much will change here. Even though they beefed up their secondary, they are still not enough to stop Aaron Rodgers and his ridiculous group of wide receivers.
The Packers will be in a fierce battle with the Bears and Lions for the division crown at this point in the season. Don't expect for the Vikings to stop them in their tracks.
Prediction: Vikings lose 38-24
Once again, the Vikings will likely be outplayed by the Bears here.
There is no stopping the Bears for the Vikings this year. However, the Vikes may punch them in the mouth a bit and make them realize that this is the last year that they will be able to pick on Minnesota. It will be a close one, but the Vikings will walk off the field with their heads down.
Prediction: Vikings lose 27-24
The matchup between Sam Bradford and Christian Ponder should be another fun one to watch.
Expect a similar game to the Week 2 and Week 6 matchups against Indianapolis and Washington.
Even though the Rams did great in the draft, they did not fix that offensive line much. Jared Allen should have a field day in Week 15. This game will be close, but the Vikings will break their losing streak and come out with a late season victory here.
Prediction: Vikings win 28-17
Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub and Arian Foster will host the Vikings in this crucial Week 16 matchup. The Texans will be looking to either secure a playoff spot here or fighting to win the division. They will really need this game and if the Texans are healthy, don't expect for the Vikings to make a lot of noise.
The Texans have not beat the Vikings yet in their history, but they will have their first victory against Minnesota in 2012.
This match won't be very close. The Texans' defense is too strong, so even the newly revamped offensive line in Minnesota won't be able to stop them. Watching Foster and Adrian Peterson duke it out for the rushing title at the end of the season will be pretty interesting. However, the Vikes won't win the game here.
Prediction: Vikings lose 24-10
The Vikings might have something to say about the Packers winning here, regardless of where Green Bay is at this point.
The Vikings will try their best to play spoiler here, and they might just do it. This will be the perfect send off to the 2012 season and if the Vikings play their last game in Minnesota, it will be the best present Minnesota could receive after losing their team.
Prediction: Vikings win 30-27
Final Record: 8-8
Sammy Sucu is a featured columnist for the WWE and the Minnesota Vikings. Sammy also writes for the NFL, Fantasy Football and the Los Angeles Lakers. You can follow him on Twitter and follow all of his coverage during WWE events and Viking games for live updates and analysis.