Minnesota Vikings: Where We Stand After Preseason Week 3
The Vikings are a team I am convinced will spoil someone's party come December. It's likely the Bears or Packers, whom they play twice each in the last two months of the season, but even if they lose all four of those games, they could then screw the Lions.
I'm sure they would prefer winning and hosing another team more than losing and doing it. They have the horses, believe it or not.
At this point they might just catch folks napping.
Let's see where we are as we head towards the season.
The Vikings look to Christian Ponder to take a big step in his development. Adding Matt Kalil, as we have illustrated before, has calmed Ponder down and helped him relax enough to read his progressions and make better decisions. He's not perfect, but it has been noticeable.
The question is, did they get him enough weapons and are they the right ones? He still has Percy Harvin, but Jerome Simpson had one good season and will be suspended for three weeks to start the season.
Once you get past them, there isn't much, and right now it seems the hope is that rookie Jarius Wright can step up quickly because nobody seems to think Mike Jenkins or Devin Aromashadu will.
My concern with Simpson lies in his spotty history. He had a tremendous season in 2011, but was at times awful before that. I tend to believe he is somewhere between the two spots, but if he falters, this offense could be in trouble.
Two huge bright spots in my opinion is the return of Adrian Peterson and the emergence of Kyle Rudolph.
Rudolph and Ponder have been working on their chemistry together and are clicking very productively. I expect that to continue all season long, even though John Carlson is coming back soon.
Meanwhile, Adrian Peterson has pushed himself very hard and really does look on pace to be in the lineup Week 1. The upside is, they don't have to use him since Toby Gerhart has been very effective. They need Peterson for the whole year, not just the start.
So resting him is very smart and easing him in, even more so.
I haven't even touched on the improved offensive line. Matt Kalil has had some rough outings, but overall he has been sharp, and the move to guard has really fit Charlie Johnson.
Overall, the line is giving Ponder the time he needs. He just needs to use it wisely.
This is an offense with some question marks, but it has the potential to be pretty good.
Who is going to be starting where in the secondary? That's a big question. Rookie Harrison Smith was locked in for a starting gig, but had an awful game this week and now that's no sure thing. However, Jamarca Sanford has been underwhelming as well, so who goes where?
At cornerback the names are pretty much the same, but health will be the key. Can these guys stay healthy? Will Antoine Winfield in particular stay healthy and effective?
The front seven is good, though transitioning since guys like E.J. Henderson have departed. Jared Allen was unconscious last season, and he may be hard pressed to repeat his numbers, but it's not out of the question.
Chad Greenway and Erin Henderson will have to step up the pace at outside linebacker in order to get to the quarterback and take advantage of the attention Allen gets.
If they can, the NFC North could be even more interesting than usual.
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