The Minnesota Vikings: High Expectations

Sean O'BrienCorrespondent IJuly 19, 2008

Last season you saw a team that hadn't made a playoff appearance since '04 step up and make a serious run at it.  Ultimately, they fell short. Even after five straight victories in the middle of the season, Minnesota was robbed of a playoff berth.

The main reason for their success was the emergence of Adrian Peterson, who, in their first game against the Chicago Bears, broke the record for single game All-Purpose yards with 361. 

Peterson ended the year with 1341 rushing yards and 268 receiving yards, some of the most impressive yards put out by a rookie in quite some time.  Chester Taylor also dazzled as a RB, sporting 844 rushing yards and 281 receiving. 

In a single season the Vikings catapulted their running game far beyond expectation.  Their one-gap rush defense also proved No. 1 overall last season.

That was the good news.  Here's the bad news: Tavaris Jackson was at the QB position.  A young and inexperienced quarterback, Jackson went on to complete 171 out of 294 and threw for nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He was also sacked 19 times and fumbled five times, three of which ended in turnovers.

Of course, every new quarterback requires time to develop and patience from the rest of the team.  Had this been his 3rd or 4th year, these kind of stats probably would've lost him his starting job.  Luckily for him, this was only his second year with the Vikings, his first as a true starter.

This year appears to be one of high expectations for the Vikings.  After barely missing the playoffs last season, many predict the Vikings will go on to win the NFC North this season. 

Though I would love to see that happen, I for one remain unsure.  Despite the drama of Brett Favre, I still see Green Bay as the main contender in their division.  However, I easily see Minnesota making the playoffs as a wild card.

Without improvement at the QB position, Minnesota will once again rely heavily on its running game, as it should.  By minimizing the amount of throws Jackson is allowed, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will effectively minimize the amount of mistakes made by the offense, and will also help the QB improve until Minnesota feels comfortable letting him throw more often.

Even with such a rugged defense and a power-punching running game, Minnesota's schedule will prove difficult.  They will face the Colts, the rising Saints, Jacksonville, their division rival Green Bay twice and will top off the season against the defending Super Bowl champs.  I predict them ending the season with a 10-6 record.