Minnesota Vikings: Analysis of 2011 Preseason and Predictions for Regular Season

Matt LeirdahlContributor IIISeptember 2, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 27: Donovan McNabb #5 of the Minnesota Vikings looks to pass against the Dallas Cowboys on August 27, 2011 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Now that the preseason is over, it is time to look ahead to the regular season. First, however, let's take a look at the preseason.

The Vikings had a very exciting offseason, with both notable losses (Ray Edwards, Sidney Rice, Tarvaris Jackson) and good additions (Donvan McNabb, Christian Ponder, Remi Ayodele, Michael Jenkins). 

First, we will look at the offense.

From preseason Week 1, it seemed as though Donovan McNabb was in control of the offense and he has already developed connections with his receivers. Surprisingly, it seems as though he has made his best connection with Bernard Berrian, who has been virtually non-existant the past two seasons. The passing game will be much improved this season and with Joe Webb, the wildcat could be a big part of that passing game. 

Adrian Peterson is ready to play, that is clear. All preseason he has been hungry for runs and has been hitting opponents hard as ever. Not to mention, it appears as though he has learned to pick up the blitz.

Toby Gerhardt is much improved and will be a viable third down back this season. If either goes down to injury, Lorenzo Booker will be able to fill in nicely. 

The offensive line looked better than expected, only letting up nine sacks during the preseason, while sustaining a 5.2 yards-per-rush average. The Vikings had the most run yards during the preseason in the entire NFL. This reflects on the offensive line because Adrian Peterson only had 21 rushing attempts, the rest were by other running backs.

For the brief period that the starting Vikings defense actually played, they did well. Greenway and Henderson looked sharp as ever, and the defensive line looked good with new starters Brian Robison and Remi Ayodele. Again, this season, the successes of the defense depend on the secondary.

Antionie Winfield is getting older and Cedric Griffin has yet to prove himself. Tyrell Johnson and/or Jamarca Sanford will need to make big contributions this season at strong safety for the Vikings to have success.     

Looking forward, the Vikings have a long, tough road to the playoffs. The Vikings are in one of the toughest divisions in football. However, there are many winnable games along the way.

The AFC West is weak, and the Vikings get to play the Panthers and Redskins. Optimistically, the Vikings could go 9-7 and come in second place in the division. Realistically, though, the Vikings will come in third place with a record of 8-8.