Minnesota Vikings: 5 Bold Predictions for 2011 Season
In 2010, the Minnesota Vikings followed up a very successful season with an extremely disappointing one.
Brett Favre struggled with injuries and poor play, leading to the selection of Florida State's Christian Ponder in the first round of April's draft.
Adrian Peterson was one of the porous offense's few bright spots.
The defense was just as bad when they took the field. They were in the bottom 10 in the league in both opponent rushing yards and opponent passing yards allowed.
We are now in 2011.
The Vikings have a new leader in Leslie Frazier, replacing the often brutally criticized Brad Childress.
Let's take a look at five bold predictions for the upcoming 2011 season.
5. Adrian Peterson Will Not Be Top Five Rusher
His division is stacking up their defensive fronts.
He has a rookie quarterback (for now).
His offensive line has proven to be inconsistent.
Yet, he might be the best running back in the league.
Adrian Peterson will be just fine. He will surpass 1,000 yards, compete for a Pro Bowl selection and break off an occasional run that makes fans rub their eyes to check if what happened was real.
Still, he will not be in the NFL's top five in rushing yards.
Too much pressure will be put on his shoulders to carry this team. The offensive line is not going to plow any truck-sized holes for him. They proved over the last few years that Peterson makes them look better than their true ability.
Everyone remembers when Peterson only recorded three yards on 14 carries against San Francisco in 2007. These negative yardage runs were a result of a breakdown in the offensive line, which killed Peterson's stat line. The same will happen this year.
Everything is setting up for AP to fail. Still, he will probably prove me wrong.
4. Visanthe Shiancoe Will Keep His Starting Job
With their second-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings selected tight end Kyle Rudolph.
Fans were upset at first. They already have a high-production receiving tight end in Visanthe Shiancoe.
However, Rudolph could be a very valuable pick. He was renowned as the best tight end in the draft, who has the size and ball skills to turn into the next Todd Heap.
Still, Rudolph will not overtake Shiancoe just yet.
Shiancoe will look at this selection as a challenge. He will only work harder to be prepared for the season and keep his starting job.
He may not have been happy with the Ponder pick, but he immediately tweeted after the selection saying he was ready to work.
So, his head is in the right place.
You might have to wait a year or two to get your chance, Mr. Rudolph.
3. Jared Allen Will Record Single-Digit Sacks
In 2010, Jared Allen recorded only one sack in his first seven games.
He is supposed to be a leader on this team. For the team's first seven games (2-5), Allen looked like he spent too much time hunting and making movie appearances in the offseason rather than working out.
Still, he came back to have a fairly solid statistical season, making at least one sack in all but two in the last 11 games.
Last year was the first year the defensive line struggled at times for Minnesota.
This year will be no different.
If they lose Pat Williams and Ray Edwards, they will struggle mightily.
Kevin Williams will be fine on the inside. He is used to double teams.
Allen's performance, however, will come crashing down without the help he normally gets, so much, in fact, that he will record less than 10 sacks for the first time since 2006 in Kansas City.
2. Christian Ponder Will Start at Least Five Games
If the season started today with the current roster, Christian Ponder would be the Minnesota Vikings' starting quarterback.
Most believe they will try to acquire a veteran quarterback once the lockout is settled.
If Minnesota does acquire a Carson Palmer-type player to lead their team from the start, he will not last.
By Week 8, fans will more than likely be frustrated with the veteran's play. Because Frazier is not as stubborn as Childress, he will realize Ponder needs time and experience to develop and succumb to the fans' requests.
The Vikings have not had much success with veteran quarterbacks in recent history (except for Favre's first year). In fact, aside from two years ago, it has been awhile since any quarterback has started all 16 games for this team.
That trend of starting multiple quarterbacks will continue in 2011.
1. Vikings Will Not Win More Than 8 Games
There are two types of Vikings' fans:
Those that think this team still has the talent for a run at a Super Bowl in the coming years.
Then, there are those who believe this team is heading into rebuilding mode with the Ponder selection in the first round.
I am somewhere in the middle. This team is still very talented, just not enough to compete for a title.
In their division, they appear to have the worst outlook with Detroit on the rise.
This year, their schedule is not atrocious. Most of Minnesota's challenging games are within the division.
Still, the Vikings will not win more than eight games because the culture of this team is in shambles.
No one knows who their starting quarterback will be quite yet. They have a rookie head coach that still has a lot of learning to do. Players like Sidney Rice, Edwards and Pat Williams may or may not return.
Uncertainty is never good for a team in the NFL. This is why the Vikings will not have a better record than .500.