Minnesota Vikings: 6 Bold Predictions for the Vikings' 2011 Season
Over the past two years, the Minnesota Vikings have gone from first to worst in the NFC North.
This year they will try to climb out of the cellar and take back the crown.
Only a year and a half removed from playing in the NFC Championship game, the Vikings will be seeking redemption. The circus-like atmosphere that followed Brett Favre to Minnesota is gone. Instead, there is a serene optimism among coaches, players and fans as the Vikings prepare for the upcoming season.
Training camp is underway, and position battles are in full swing. This Saturday the Vikings will play their first preseason game against the Tennessee Titans.
With less than a month before the regular-season opener, I present to you:
6 Bold Predictions for the Vikings' 2011 Season.
Adrian Peterson Will Lead the League in Rushing Yards & Yards from Scrimmage
Since entering the league in 2007, Adrain Peterson has gained more yards from scrimmage than any other player in the league, but 2011 could be the best year of his young career.
Peterson has been the focal point of the Vikings' offense for the last four years, but this season he plans to be more involved in the passing game.
With McNabb under center, opposing defenses will have to respect the Vikings' passing game, giving Peterson more room to run.
Let's not forget that Peterson is in a contract year, so he will have a little extra incentive to dominate.
Peterson has the work ethic, desire and ability to put up monstrous number. Look for him to have a career year in 2011.
Donovan McNabb Will Resurrect His Career in Minnesota
Donovan McNabb was not a good fit with Mike Shanahan and the Washington Redskins. Shanahan, who is known for being a control freak, even benched McNabb at the end of the season in favor of Rex Grossman.
In Minnesota, McNabb will be re-united with Leslie Frazier. The two have a strong relationship dating back to McNabb's rookie year in Philadelphia, when Frazier was the Eagles' defensive backs coach.
McNabb is only 34 and still has plenty of gas in the tank, so all the talk of him being washed up seems a little premature.
With a chip on his shoulder and more weapons at his disposal, McNabb will bounce back and help Vikings fans forget about the circus that was the 2010 season.
Percy Harvin Will Break the 1,000-Yard Mark and Make the Pro Bowl
Percy Harvin has been a solid performer since being drafted in 2009.
Last year Harvin caught 71 passes for 868 yards and five touchdowns. He also ran for 107 yards and a touchdown.
With the departure of Sidney Rice this offseason, Harvin will immediately become the Vikings' top receiving threat, and Bill Musgrave will make every attempt to get him the ball.
Harvin may not have ideal size for a wide receiver, but he is strong, well-built and has the ability to turn any play into a touchdown.
In an effort to add even more speed, Harvin reported to training camp 10 pounds lighter than his 2010 playing weight. He believes that his migraine issues are behind him and is ready to show the league what he is truly capable of.
Harvin will errupt this season, cementing his spot as one of the best pass-catchers in the NFL.
Jared Allen & Brian Robison Will Both Reach Double-Digit Sacks
Before the Vikings lost Ray Edwards to the Atlanta Falcons, they signed his backup, Brian Robison, to a three-year, $14 million contract.
The Vikings' confidence in Robison is not unwarranted, as he has shown flashes of greatness in a limited role. This season he will get finally an opportunity to be an every-down player.
Robison, who is a freakish athlete, is known around the league for his exceptional work ethic. This year he added mixed martial arts training to his offseason regimen in an attempt to increase his lateral quickness and explosiveness.
Jared Allen and Brian Robison are both devastating speed-rushers with relentless motors, so look for the Vikings to get plenty of pressure on opposing quarterbacks this season.
Cedric Griffin Will Win Comeback Player of the Year
Cedric Griffin is coming off his second ACL surgery in two years, but you wouldn't be able to tell by watching him practice at the Vikings' training camp this summer.
Griffin has the heart of a warrior. Instead of giving up (which would be easy to do in his situation), he has been busting his butt to get back to full speed and is expected to be ready when the Vikings open their season on September 11 against the San Diego Chargers.
Before his first ACL tear in the 2009 NFC Championship game, Griffin led the Vikings defense with four interceptions, while recording 78 tackles and three forced fumbles.
Griffin is an big, physical corner who is great in press coverage and aggressive in run-support. His return will instantly rejuvenate the Vikings' secondary.
Look for Griffin to return to his pre-injury form this season and win the NFL's 2011 Comeback Player of the Year Award.
The Vikings Will Win the NFC North Championship
The Minnesota Vikings are coming off one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history, but there is plenty of optimism among coaches, players and fans.
The team made a smart decision when they hired Leslie Frazier as their head coach. He is a great communicator and will bring a new attitude and a strong sense of accountability to the Vikings organization.
The Vikings also hired Bill Musgrave to run the offense. Musgrave will employ a variety of schematic strategies in order to get the most out of the Vikings' offensive talent instead of being married to one particular offensive philosophy.
On the defense, Fred Pagac steps in as defensive coordinator. Although the Vikings will be running the same defensive scheme, the play-calling will likely be more aggressive this year.
The team did lose some solid players in Sidney Rice, Ray Edwards, Ben Leber and Pat Williams, but there are many young, talented players on the Vikings roster that are ready to step in and contribute.
With the Green Bay Packers coming off a Super Bowl Championship, the Chicago Bears trying to get back to the NFC Championship, and the Detroit Lions on the rise, the NFC North is quickly becoming one of the toughest divisions in football. However, the Vikings, who will be heavy underdogs going into the season, are lying low like a snake in the grass, waiting for the opportunity to strike.
With a revamped coaching staff, a new attitude and a giant chip on their shoulder, the Vikings will bounce back to win the NFC North and make another run at a Super Bowl.