After winning the NFC North in 2008 with a 10-6 record, expectations will be high for the 2009 Minnesota Vikings in their fourth year under head coach Brad Childress. The Vikings have realistic Super Bowl aspirations, and significantly less than that could lead to Childress being fired.
It is realistic to expect the Vikings to win the NFC North again in 2009, with the amount of Pro Bowl-caliber talent on the roster. RB Adrian Peterson is coming off a league rushing title in 2008, and guard Steve Hutchinson, defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams and cornerback Antoine Winfield are in the top tier at their position in the NFL.
If the Vikings can get solid play from the quarterback position, they could exceed the standard they set last season and win one or more playoff games in 2009. Sage Rosenfels was acquired from the Houston Texans this offseason, and he will compete with Tarvaris Jackson for the starting job.
Rosenfels would have to be considered the front runner to win the job, but it will reportedly be an open competition. Another season of mediocre quarterback play could easily lead to the Vikings not reaching their goals for 2009.
Another looming situation for the Vikings is the possible suspensions for defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams, affectionately known as "The Williams Wall."
They have reportedly tested positive for a banned substance in the weight-loss supplement StarCaps, and legal proceedings in a case against the NFL on their behalf (and a few other NFL players) are still ongoing.
If the Williams' are suspended, they would likely be suspended for four games under league rules. That would obviously have a negative effect on the Vikings' defense and hurt the team's chances overall.
All things considered, I expect the Vikings to win 10 or 11 games (or possibly more) in 2009 and win the NFC North. I also expect they will win at least one playoff game, but being a somewhat jaded fan I cannot confidently predict much more than one playoff win.