2014 Record – 7-9
WR Mike Wallace, CB Terrence Newman, C Joe Berger, QB Shaun Hill
FB Jerome Felton, ILB Jasper Brinkley, WR Greg Jennings, QB Christian Ponder
When your key departures section is headlined by a fullback, you’re in good shape through free agency. The additions are less than stellar but Mike Wallace has unrealized talent since his days with Pittsburgh and Terrence Newman can likely help install Mike Zimmer’s defense from his days in Cincinnati. The Minnesota Viking’s defense was unspectacular in 2014 and doesn’t show too many signs of improvement other than another year in the same system.
The offense has plenty of high-risk upside in the passing game between Teddy Bridgewater’s protential development and the possibility that one or both of Wallace and Cordarelle Patterson can put things together and stretch the field immensely. The Vikings will have to go on without Phil Loadholt and Michael Harris being such a mediocre fill-in in 2014. The running game, though already one of the better units in the league in 2014 will get a boost from the return of Adrian Peterson.
X-Factor – Cordarelle Patterson
There was a strange miscommunication and lack of trust – deserved and otherwise – between the Vikings coaching staff and Patterson. He wasn’t without blame, but he is such a dynamic talent that the coaching staff needs to find a way to get him involved on offense, not just special teams. The combination of Charles Johnson, Wallace, and Patterson could be one of the more exciting wide receiver corps in football, but Patterson won’t get there alone.
2015 Breakout Player – Teddy Bridgewater
After a rough start to his career in his first three appearances, Bridgewater started to show what made him the top QB in the 2014 draft class all year before the lead up to the 2014 draft itself. He completed more than 70% of his attempts over the final five games of the 2014 season and has a year of experience under his belt. The hype machine is already going along fine on its own, but Bridgewater could become everyone’s favorite young QB if the Vikings make a playoff push.
Bridgewater succeeds and the defense takes a notable step forward. 11-5
A sophomore slump takes Bridgewater out of the hype and the receiving corp never puts it together while the defense regresses even more. 6-10
Thursday, December 10 the Minnesota Vikings will take on the Arizona Cardinals in a game that could have NFC Wild Card implications. The Vikings will be an outside shot at competing for the playoffs, but that game could spell their push or their downfall.