The Minnesota Vikings are already looking up at the rest of the NFC and the season hasn’t even started yet. That is the way the national media has already pegged the Vikings. If you believe pretty much every analyst, prognosticator, journalist and national football pundit out there, there is no reason for the Vikings to even show up.
The Vikings are one of eight teams that have just one primetime game, a Thursday game during week nine at Mall of America Field against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Roger Goodell said in February that every team is guaranteed one such game.
The Vikings play in what is considered the best division in football. The Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions went to the playoffs last season and are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. The Chicago Bears are a dark horse that several experts pick to make the playoffs as a Wild Card entrant.
That leaves the Vikings with little hope.
However, the Vikings have six winnable games against equally bad teams: Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts, Washington Redskins, Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams; two more games it could win: Tennessee Titans at home and Seattle Seahawks on the road; and two other games at the end of the season may involve teams that already have a playoff spot secured: the final two weeks at the Houston Texans and home against the Green Bay Packers.
When looking at the schedule, 10 wins may not be so unattainable. While many don’t think it will happen, it isn’t totally out of the question. Still, there are plenty of “ifs.”
If Christian Ponder plays like the Vikings think he can.
If Adrian Peterson is healthy and as effective as he was before the injury.
If the addition of Jerome Simpson can make every other receiver better.
If the offensive line is as much improved as expected with the addition of Matt Kalil, movement of Charlie Johnson from tackle to guard and the insertion of Brandon Fusco into the starting lineup.
If the defensive line can get to the passer like it did last season, especially Jared Allen.
If the secondary can stop a pass or two.
If Blair Walsh can be as reliable as he was during his junior season at Georgia
If the team remains healthy.
If Leslie Frazier can transform a 3-13 team into a legitimate playoff contender.
That is a whole lot of “ifs.”
But, remember last season––the San Francisco 49ers were not expected to be in the playoffs and the St. Louis Rams were picked to win the division. The Niners not only made the playoffs, but were a play away from reaching the Super Bowl and the Rams had the second worst record in the league.
That is why games are played on the field and not on paper.
For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Vikings news, see CBS Sports Minnesota.
Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. His work can be found on Examiner.com.