The Minnesota Vikings are getting a much needed rest which is the perfect time to speculate second-half season predictions for the remainder of the Vikings schedule.
Whether you looked at this portion of the schedule on opening day, or are taking a look at it now, one aspect remains the same—there are some tough games ahead.
The difference, however, are who those teams are that make things difficult.
Let's take a look at what I have in store, because there is plenty of room to believe that the Vikings could do a complete 180 after this week's bye.
In their first go-around, Christian Ponder and the Vikings nearly handed the Packers their first defeat in a close contest that afforded the Packers a 33-27 victory in Minnesota.
Now it's payback...hopefully.
Playing in Green Bay—and actually winning—is not an easy feat to accomplish, but the Vikings learned that they can in fact run against the Packers vaunted run defense, and they also learned last week that Ponder can in fact lead this team to a victory.
The Vikings made a few key mistakes in their contest—mostly coaching—which led to their defeat, but I just don't see the same outcome as their first encounter.
Look for the Vikings to roll with Adrian Peterson once more and allow Ponder to more aggressively attack the Packers secondary.
The ground game should be utilized even more in this contest, and I predict another close encounter.
Prediction: Minnesota 24, Green Bay 21
The Raiders are a very sneaky team especially on defense, but it is their offense that could work against them in this contest.
I believe it is going to take the Raiders a little more time than they think to get Carson Palmer totally on par with the offense, and the Vikings could use their aggressive front four to disrupt Palmer's rhythm.
The worry here is the Raiders own level of aggressive play on D, and a very sound ground assault which ranks second in the league.
Still, if the Vikings can contain the Raiders ground game and get pressure early enough, I can very much see the Vikings winning this game at home.
Prediction: Minnesota 17, Oakland 10
Here's where things get a bit sticky.
The Falcons are nearly unbeatable at home, and feature two receivers who are extremely explosive in Roddy White and Julio Jones.
Up until this week, however, both Jones and White weren't playing 100 percent. Julio Jones has been hampered with a hamstring injury while Roddy White has been dealing with a ginger knee.
Both players are much healthier now than they have been, and that should be a huge concern for Minnesota.
If you factor in RB Michael Turner and TE Tony Gonzalez, you seemingly have a game that is out of reach for Minnesota.
Anything's possible, but I don't see this happening.
Prediction: Atlanta 27, Minnesota 17
I'll make this short and simple.
Denver is in total disarray, and won't offer much of a challenge when they visit Minnesota—plain and simple.
The Broncos pass defense—although improving slowly each week—is still vulnerable, and their offense is so far out of whack with the whole Tebow experiment and lack of an explosive ground game, it is hard to imagine the Vikings losing this contest.
It should be a fun game for Vikings' fans; not so fun for Broncos fans.
Prediction: Minnesota 31, Denver 13
I want to say the Vikings are going to win this one, I really do, but my better judgement says otherwise.
The Lions are playing at such a high level right now, it's going to be incredibly hard to walk into Ford Field and beat them, especially considering the Lions will be playing for possible playoff positioning.
I'm not saying it's impossible—I did predict the Vikings walking into Lambeau and winning, didn't I?—but I feel it is highly unlikely with so many weapons to defend.
Prediction: Detroit 28, Minnesota, 17
What many should've learned about Drew Brees this year is that when he faces good pass defenses, he turns the ball over repetitively.
The Vikings are tied for third in sacks (24) and are getting much better at generating turnovers on defense, so disrupting Brees and company early, then squeezing out a lead with the league's third-best ground assault should be just enough to edge the high powered Saints.
Prediction: Minnesota 17, Saints 14
The Vikings—as mentioned earlier—are tied for third in sacks at 24.
The Redskins are seemingly spiraling out of control, and the Vikings are seemingly turning things around.
The Vikings have a very good chance of making it two in a row when they visit Washington, and that's how I am going to call this one.
Prediction: Minnesota 21, Washington 10
At this point in the season, the Bears could be fighting for a playoff berth, and it could take having to beat Minnesota in Minnesota to have that happen.
But imagine if my predictions come true and the Vikings turn things around.
Sure, they more than likely won't make the playoffs, but they will be closing the season out on such a high note, the only thing that would make it sweeter, is the chance to play spoiler to hated divisional foe Chicago.
It's a dream come true situation for any team in this position.
The Bears used their defense to beat Minnesota in their last contest, allowing their offense to find an early groove, but that was then and this is now.
I actually see this game being a very close and grueling contest to the absolute bitter end, with the Vikings putting a stamp on their total turnaround.
Prediction: Minnesota 13, Chicago 10
Final Record: 8-8