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Adrian Peterson Comments on Vikings' 2016 Outlook, Laquon Treadwell and More

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 15, 2016

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) runs the ball during the NFL Pro Bowl football game, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016, in Honolulu.  (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)
Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson already told Peter King of The MMQB he thinks his squad will lift the Lombardi Trophy this season, and he didn’t back down when he appeared on Friday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk).   

Peterson provided a number of reasons why he thinks the Vikings can win the entire thing and started at the top of the organization, per Florio: “[General manager] Rick Spielman is doing a great job when it comes to bringing quality guys that fit our system. Along with coach [Mike] Zimmer and his great staff, I feel like we have that core system and guys in the right place to be able to accomplish great things.”

Peterson also looked to the other side of the ball: “What really excites me the most is our defense.”

That makes sense because the defense was critical in Minnesota’s strong effort in 2015, when it finished 11-5 and reached the postseason. The Vikings were fifth in the league in scoring defense, and that unit set the tone during Minnesota's 10-9 Wild Card Round loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

While Blair Walsh missed a chip-shot field goal from 27 yards out that would have won it, the offense never took advantage of the defense’s play all game. That followed the script of the regular season, when the Vikings were 29th in total offense and a middling 16th in scoring offense.

Peterson recognized his side needs to improve to make good on that Super Bowl prediction: "Offensively just going off of what we were able to accomplish this year and we really weren’t the type of offense that we wanted to be. ... So with the moves we’ve made this offseason with [Alex] Boone and [Andre] Smith and then some of these young guys that really have a lot to prove, that we drafted."

Those new offensive linemen will help 23-year-old quarterback Teddy Bridgewater develop. Football Outsiders ranked the Minnesota offensive line as the 29th-best pass-protection unit in the NFL last year, and Bridgewater still managed to throw for 3,231 yards.

Rookie wide receiver Laquon Treadwell—taken No. 23 overall in this year's draft—will also help Bridgewater, and Peterson commented on the Ole Miss product:

Just watching him during the draft process I know he was disappointed that he didn’t go lower. Of course, I was happy that he ended up right there at 23 for us. So just kind of looking in his face and looking in his eyes I could tell that he was upset and that he has something to prove. There’s nothing better than that, having a young guy who for the past two years was the best receiver that they had on the charts.

Treadwell finished with 1,153 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns last year for Ole Miss. What’s more, he is a Chicago native, which means there shouldn’t be much concern about his ability to move from the SEC to the cold weather the Vikings will play in during the 2016 campaign.

Peterson also wasn’t worried about Treadwell’s slower 40-yard-dash time (he ran a 4.63 40-yard dash at his pro day, per his NFL.com draft profile) and was pleased such a productive playmaker fell to the Vikings.

There may not be many NFL fans who think the Vikings can reach the Super Bowl, even with the new additions. Peterson explained his overall mindset when facing those doubts: “I’m the type of person I like defeating the odds. I’m sure there’s gonna be a naysayer this year, ‘Oh, he’s 31 what is he gonna do?’ and in my mind I’ll go ahead and prove them wrong again.”

Peterson may be older for a running back, but he still ran for 1,485 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. The yardage total was the third-highest for an individual season in his career, and he showed no signs of rust after only appearing in one game in 2014.

As for the team, it isn't that outlandish to suggest it can win a title. As of Sunday, the Vikings boasted the ninth-best odds to win the Super Bowl at plus-2,000, per Odds Shark.

They will have to go through a powerhouse Green Bay Packers team that has finished with a winning record every year since 2008, but the Chicago Bears (one winning record in the last five years) and Detroit Lions (no more WR Calvin Johnson after he retired) should give Minnesota plenty of chances to rack up wins in the NFC North.

If it does that, it will be in the playoffs once again with a strong defense and a superstar running back to carry the load.

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