It's been a topic of debate for months now. Who is the best team in the NFC North? As always, I truly believe that it's the Minnesota Vikings. I will not be changing my mind on that anytime soon.
I will be listing ten reasons why the Vikings will win the NFC North in 2009. Please enjoy the list!
1. Adrian Peterson
Of course the best running back in the league has to be some sort of reason. In his first two seasons, Adrian Peterson has become virtually un-stoppable. He is a threat to score any time that he touches the ball. Peterson has great break-away speed, and can slip by defenders whenever need be.
It can be debated that he is inconsistent, but he often plays the game even when he isn't at 100 percent physically. He fumbled a disasterous nine times last season, which led the Vikings to turning the ball over in the red-zone a few key times.
He could easily be the MVP next season if he controls his fumble problem. I could truly see him getting 400 carries for around 2,000 yards. Minnesota has the offensive line that will allow him to do so.
2. Bernard Berrian
Minnesota signed Bernard after his contract ran up with the Bears at the end of the 2007 season. The Vikings were in a bidding war with the Oakland Raiders, but Berrian declined the amount of money that Oakland had been offering.
Last year with the Vikings, Berrian had over 900 yards, and nearly 50 receptions. He showed inconsistency in some games where he only caught one or two passes at most. He needs to be thrown at a lot more than he was this year.
Berrian is a very explosive target that Minnesota fans will have the privilege of enjoying for the next years to come. His best years are yet to come. I see Berrian eclipsing 1,000 yards in 2009.
3. Percy Harvin
Minnesota drafted Percy Harvin with the 22nd overall pick in the 2009 draft. This may have come as a surprise to many, including me, but the Vikings made the right decision drafting Harvin.
He has been accused of having an ego issue, and lives in his own little world called "Percyland". In my opinion, I think that this is an issue that he only went through in college. Percy should not have these egotistic problems once he is making the big bucks in the NFL.
Harvin will provide the Vikings with a legitimate threat on the opposite side of Bernard Berrian. I doubt that he gets a lot of catches in his rookie season, but he will make some sort of an impact, whether it's on special teams, on the ground, or through receiving the football.
4. Visanthe Shiancoe
Minnesota signed Shiancoe from the Giants prior to the 2007 season. He only had 12 receptions for 81 yards with New York in 2006. These aren't great numbers, but Brad Childress knew that there was something special in Visanthe.
In his first season with the Vikings, Shiancoe did not show true signs of being a star. He only had 27 receptions for 323 yards. His most disappointing stat was that he only had one touchdowns.
In 2008, Visanthe stepped it up in a big way with 42 catches for 596 yards, and a whopping 7 touchdowns. Minnesota should look for even better numbers from Shiancoe next season.
5. Offensive Line
I could care less what you think, as mean as it sounds. The Vikings do have one of the best offensive lines in the entire league. But, you're thinking, "They lost Matt Birk." Yes, this is true, but they still have a good offensive line.
Steve Hutchinson is the best guard in football, and he has made it to six straight Pro Bowls since 2003. He will be able to anchor the left side of the offensive line with former first round pick, Bryant McKinnie.
At center is John Sullivan, a former sixth-round-pick from the University of Notre Dame. He will be starting for the first time in his career. On the right side will likely be second-round-pick, Phil Loadholt, and under-rated right guard, Anthony Herrera.
6. Jared Allen
By now you should know exactly who Jared Allen is. The Vikings traded multiple picks to get Allen from the Kansas City Chiefs. They had been looking to get rid of him for his multiple arrests that he had suffered from in his career in Kansas City.
Minnesota had been looking to get a talented defensive end after Erasmus James had not panned out like he was expected to. The Vikings got exactly the player that they had been looking for.
Jared had 14.5 sacks in his first season with the Vikings. Allen is one of the toughest players in the league, and also one of the nicest. He has become a fan favorite in only one year with Minnesota.
7. Williams Wall
They might be suspended for four games, and by they, I mean, Kevin and Pat Williams. The reason they might get suspended is because they took an illegal weight-loss supplement. Kevin and Pat didn't know that this drug was against the rules of the National Football League.
Despite that fact, both of them are very talented football players. Pat is nearly 37 years old, so he could retire after the 2009 season. Kevin is only 29 years old, and still has plenty of gas left in the tank.
Kevin had 8.5 sacks last year, and Pat was a run-stuffer that the Vikings seem to always have. Both of them should have great years next year if they aren't suspended, but only time will tell what will happen to them.
8. Ben Leber, E.J. Henderson, and Chad Greenway
The Vikings have a very underrated linebackers group. Ben Leber is one of the more under-rated weakside linebackers in the entire NFL. E.J. Henderson missed most of the 2008 season with an injury. Chad Greenway is one of the better linebackers in the entire NFC North.
E.J. Henderson was vastly missed last season. Minnesota had a great run defense, but it would have been better if Henderson was healthy. When he is 100 percent, E.J. is one of the best linebackers in the entire NFL, believe it or not.
All three of these players should see large amounts of success next season. They are all still relatively young and talented. Except over 100 tackles for both E.J. Henderson and Chad Greenway in '09.
9. Antoine Winfield
Antoine Winfield made the Pro Bowl after his incredible 2008 season. Many thought that Antoine's game had taken a bit of a slip. He surprised everybody and had the best season of his entire career.
In his 10th season, Winfield had 95 tackles, 11 passes deflected, 2 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and 2 interceptions. Incredible numbers for a guy that is nearly 32 years old.
Antoine is in the last year of his contract, so he will likely play as hard as he can to receive a large amount of money on his new deal. Minnesota, without a doubt, needs to re-sign Winfield when the 2009 season is over.
10. Ryan Longwell and Chris Kluwe
Ryan Longwell was signed after the 2005 season when his contract expired with the Green Bay Packers. Since then he has made 70 of 83 field goals in his three seasons with the Vikings.
Longwell connected on 29 of 34 field goals last season, and as he should, nailed all of his 40 extra point attempts.
On the other hand you have punter, Chris Kluwe. You might not know who he is yet, but he is the best punter in the NFC. He had a punt average of 47.6 yards in 2008.
Special Teams is a very under-rated aspect of an NFL team, but they still are a huge factor of a game. Minnesota has one of the best kickers and the second-best punter in the league today.