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Preseason Power Rankings No. 16: Vikings

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The Vikings start the 2013 season smack in the middle of the pack.  They likely won’t finish there.

The unlikely 2012 wild-card team will get either a lot better with the development of a strong passing game, or a lot worse without it.

And so the focal point of the entire franchise becomes the man who is the most important player on every NFL team:  the quarterback.

The Vikings will go as far as Christian Ponder will take them.  And before we go much farther with that point, let’s defer to the various categories we use for every team.

Strengths.

The Vikings’ biggest strength comes from an offense built around Adrian Peterson, the reigning league MVP.  If Peterson, who came within nine yards of the single-season rushing record despite tearing an ACL on Christmas Eve of 2011, runs in 2013 like he ran during the second half of 2012, he could put up 2,500 yards or more.

Helping him try again to topple Eric Dickerson’s record is an offensive line that returns all five starters, even though questions swirl around John Sullivan’s knee, which required microfracture surgery to simulate cartilage growth.  They stepped up to pay right tackle Phil Loadholt, and Matt Kalil had a solid rookie season at left tackle.

Elsewhere on offense, the tight end position features tight end Kyle Rudolph and fullback Jerome Felton.  Both made it to the Pro Bowl; Rudolph was the game’s MVP.

The defensive line continues to be a strong suit for the Vikings, but the winds of change are blowing like that big horn that blares whenever a touchdown is scored.  Defensive end Jared Allen and defensive tackle Kevin Williams enter contract years.  The Vikings need rookie Sharrif Floyd to make a quick impact, and they need guys like Brian Robison and Everson Griffen to show that they can get it done if/when Allen is elsewhere in 2014.

The safety position went quickly from perennial weakness to strength with the arrival in 2012 of Harrison Smith.  If he can continue to develop, the Vikings could soon have one of the strongest last lines of defense in the league.

The Vikings have one of the best kickers in the league in 2012 rookie Blair Walsh, and they could have one of the best punters in 2013 rookie Jeff Locke, who was deemed to be good enough after one minicamp to justify jettisoning veteran Chris Kluwe.

Weaknesses.

The Vikings’ biggest weakness, like their biggest strength, comes from an offense built around Adrian Peterson, the reigning league MVP.  Similar to the pre-Favre years, the Vikings have been unable to take advantage of the attention paid to Peterson with a passing game that stretches the field, in turn making it easier for Peterson to pile up even more yards.

Despite all the bouquets being thrown to third-year quarterback Christian Ponder, he enters a distinct “prove it or lose it” campaign in Minnesota.  And the verdict could come even before the end of the coming season.  If Ponder, the 12th overall pick in 2011, stinks it up badly enough, Matt Cassel could get a chance to resurrect his own once-promising career.

It’s hard to label the receiver position as a strength or a weakness in isolation, but it doesn’t matter.  Together with Ponder, the unit will be viewed as a weakness until they prove otherwise, with Ponder reaching his potential, free-agent Greg Jennings staying healthy and playing effectively, raw rookie Cordarrelle Patterson making an impact more like Randy Moss and less like Troy Williamson, and veteran Jerome Simpson living up to the hype that made him a free-agent arrival in 2012.

On defense, middle linebacker isn’t a weakness as much as it’s unsettled, with Erin Henderson sliding in from the outside and newcomer Desmond Bishop hoping to get healthy and reacquainted with the 4-3 defense.

The cornerback position also has question marks with the departure of Antoine Winfield, but first-round rookie Xavier Rhodes bolsters a group that features quietly improving former second-rounder Chris Cook.

Changes.

The release of veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield could be the first gust that will impact the defense in the coming years, with standouts like Jared Allen and Kevin Williams likely making way for cheaper, younger players.  Two of those guys came via round one, with defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and cornerback Xavier Rhodes joining a gradually improving defense.

With Jasper Brinkley gone for Arizona, the middle linebacker spot is wide open.  Former Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop joins Erin Henderson as the primary candidates to fill the void.

On offense, two new receivers — veteran Greg Jennings and first-rounder Cordarrelle Patterson — make it harder for Christian Ponder to cite a lack of weapons if the passing game doesn’t improve.  They replace Percy Harvin, who was shipped to Seattle for more than the Vikings, who made their playoff push without him in 2012, should have gotten.

Finally, one of the most intriguing players on the roster isn’t a new arrival, but he has a new position.  Three years after switching Joe Webb from receiver to quarterback after his rookie minicamp, Webb has returned to the receiver position, where he’ll have to win a roster spot any way he can.

Position battles.

On offense, many of the jobs are set.  Christian Ponder enters the season as the unquestioned starter; questions will arise only if he stinks it up.

The depth chart at receiver starts with Greg Jennings and continues with a cluster of guys who’ll earn their playing time during training camp and the preseason.  Jerome Simpson, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Jarius Wright will battle for playing time.

The biggest question comes at the bottom of the depth chart, where converted quarterback Joe Webb will have to earn his roster spot.  If he can contribute on special teams (he could be returning punts), it’ll help his cause.

First-round rookie Sharrif Floyd will have a chance to take reps from last year’s starters at defensive tackle, Kevin Williams and Letroy Guion, even if Floyd doesn’t get a starting job himself.  Generally speaking, the rotation on the defensive line needs to be determined, with the Vikings hoping to get defensive end Everson Griffen on the field.

At linebacker, Erin Henderson and Desmond Bishop will battle both in the middle and elsewhere, since the guy who loses out on the chance to replace Jasper Brinkley could end up starting on the strong side, across from Chad Greenway.  Don’t rule out Gerald Hodges for some playing time, since he had a very strong offseason.

In the secondary, Xavier Rhodes and Josh Robinson will fight for a starting spot across from Chris Cook.  A.J. Jefferson could have a chance, too. Robinson also will battle Jacob Lacey for the nickel position.

At safety, Jamarca Sanford, Mistral Raymond, and Robert Blanton will compete to start alongside Harrison Smith.

Prospects.

The Vikings won three games in 2011 before rebounding in unexpected fashion with a playoff berth in 2012.  The team currently lands somewhere in the middle, and it will skew toward good or bad based on Christian Ponder’s ability to develop into a consistent starting quarterback.

At a time when parity has allowed any team to get to the playoffs, only teams with franchise quarterbacks win Super Bowls.  Still, the Vikings have the ability if Ponder is merely competent to become an elite team, thanks to the skills and abilities of Adrian Peterson, an underrated defense, and a young kicker and punter who can contribute three-pointers and field position.

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67 Responses to “Preseason Power Rankings No. 16: Vikings”
  1. MDSisAtool says: Jul 17, 2013 8:54 AM

    Way too high.

  2. jrmbadger says: Jul 17, 2013 8:58 AM

    16?!?!?!? What an outrage! I’ve been hearing all summer now from the Viking fans how the Vikings are better than the Packers and will win the Superbowl this year and now you’re telling me that they are only middle of the road?

    WHAT!?!?!?!?

    Greg Jennings demands respect!

  3. gobacktocheeseland says: Jul 17, 2013 9:02 AM

    Fly under the radar.

  4. markchmurasbabysitter says: Jul 17, 2013 9:07 AM

    Sounds about right

  5. bucrightoff says: Jul 17, 2013 9:08 AM

    Ponder makes their range anywhere from 4-12 to 11-5.

  6. Carl Gerbschmidt says: Jul 17, 2013 9:18 AM

    “..required microfracture surgery to simulate cartilage growth.”

    I guess I don’t see how simulating cartilage growth will help. I guess it’s like how vike fans simulate the vike in the Super Bowl every year. That never works either.

  7. obsessedvikingfan says: Jul 17, 2013 9:24 AM

    I have no problems with this ranking and his comments on the positions.

    Ponder’s 2nd year stats are very similar to Matt Ryan’s 2nd year but no one ever mentions that.

    Like every year in the NFL, any team can come out and have a great year and make a run. This year can and might be the Vikings year.

  8. themostlogicalofvoices says: Jul 17, 2013 9:25 AM

    As a diehard Packer fan….

    I’m not sure about the ranking and frankly I don’t care but if Packer fans think for one second that we are just going to steamroll the Vikings on our way to another division title then you are sadly mistaken. The battles in the north this year are going to be epic and the MN vs GB games are going to be some of the best football in the NFL this year.

  9. mattyjimmy says: Jul 17, 2013 9:35 AM

    This position is spot on. The offense will be as good as Ponder can make them. If injuries don’t play a major role, with the same 5 starters returning on the O-Line you should get a 1500 yard or better season out of Peterson. So you basically know what he is going to give you. The QB play is the major variable on the offensive side of the ball. The defense is definitely improving and will probably be a focus in the draft over the next few seasons. Winfield leaving will hurt the run defense to be sure but the cover 2 hides a lot of flaws. Special teams is huge. Pinning opponents deep in their own zone, and a high conversion rate from 55+ yards is key to the season. That really changes games in a way that I’m always surprised doesn’t get more attention.

  10. kenshalek says: Jul 17, 2013 9:49 AM

    Wow, mentioning Ponder in the same breath as Matt Ryan is a joke…Ponder has proved he can’t throw the ball more that 20 yards. As a Viking fan my hope is that Ponder doesn’t kill our field position battle, or turn the ball over another 10 times on the wrong side of 50 yard line..Viking Defense gets a bad rap because of this crappy field position they get stuck in..

  11. ruvelligwebuike says: Jul 17, 2013 10:01 AM

    It sickens me to admit that this team could be good this year.

    I see them finishing 10-6. Not because they haven’t improved, but because everyone else has too, on paper. The NFC is pretty damn tough top to bottom.

    What will hold them back is Ponder. Who cares if they have field stretching receivers? I remember him underthrowing Jarius Wright by 10 yards on a sure touchdown that turned into a pick against the Bears. Unless his arm magically became strong enough to make NFL throws downfield, it will always hold the Vikings back.

  12. ColtsWinColtsWin!! says: Jul 17, 2013 10:22 AM

    They will finish ahead of the Bears of course, but it will be a toss up between them and the Lions, the Packers will still take the division title though.

  13. jazsrt says: Jul 17, 2013 10:25 AM

    jazsrt says:
    Jul 16, 2013 4:47 PM
    2ruefan says:
    Jul 16, 2013 3:41 PM
    For all your (fake) Packers fans (I suspect you really are Bear’s fans) posting “Should be higher than the Vikings, I’m more worried about the Bears, yada, yada, yada..

    You DO realize that the Packers SWEPT the Bears last season (pretty easily BTW), right?

    And the Pack split with the Vikes (costing them the number two seed, and possible the reason they lost in SanFran) and.. the fact that the Bears were swept is also the reason the were not IN the playoffs with the same record as the Vikings.

    So, let’s stop the dopey comparisons. The Vikings last year put more harm on the Pack than the toothless Bears did and the Bears should not be ranked in preseason higher than any team that made the playoffs. Pure and simple.

    ________________________________

    Also, I will be sure to re-post this when the Vikings are ranked behind the Giants, a team who did not make the playoffs last year, but will surely be ranked higher.

    (Saints and Cowboys as well.)
    ________________________________

    I am a man of my word.

  14. jimnsota says: Jul 17, 2013 10:33 AM

    Nothing wrong with the ranking. Ponder has to become an NFL caliber QB or he’s done. Difference this year to last is they can put Cassel in if needed.
    I like the direction this team is going. They have done a great job drafting starters in the last couple of years. Talent on both sides of the ball is improving. Wouldn’t be shocked if they finish 500 or have 10+ wins.
    Cant wait to see what CP84 can do when he gets a shot. You cannot teach the kind of talent this kid is gifted with. I think he will help this team sooner than a lot have forecasted.

  15. jmak79 says: Jul 17, 2013 10:38 AM

    As a viking fan I don’t compare Ponder to anyone since all quarterbacks develop/regress in their own way. But I do root for him since he has a ton on his shoulders being a high draft pick, knowing he has an MVP running back, knowing he has several hall of fame defensive teammates, and know has a veteran wide Reciever who says positive things (for now) in Greg Jennings. To his credit he never points blame to anyone but himself after loses and always credits teammates after wins. If you like underdog stories root for him if you enjoy seeing a guy fail because you think he got lucky for where he’s at root against him.

  16. steelers4385 says: Jul 17, 2013 10:42 AM

    Im sorry but i would not want a ponder leading my team any where.

  17. jprcox says: Jul 17, 2013 10:48 AM

    10 teams go to the playoffs, so 16 means you think they are going to miss the playoffs? My guess is Vikings are a playoff team, so I was a bit surprised by this ranking.

  18. whatjusthapped says: Jul 17, 2013 10:50 AM

    Overall team talent is important but the vast majority of the elite teams have an elite Qb. You can point to Trent Dilfer all you want but he is by far the exception to this rule and even then, they had the #1 defense to help offset his average play.

    That said, the Viking’s will only go as far as their Qb play will permit and with Ponder and Cassel, the fans are just playing with themselves thinking this is the year. Ponder is in for a tough year because the defensive coordinators have a full year of bubble screens, quick slants and TE’s into the flat to scheme against. He hardly ever throws more than 10 yards downfield because it exposes his weak arm.

    Spending all that money on Jennings and drafting “Flash” in the first round is wasted. It’s like putting high performance racing tires on a 1971 Ford Pinto. Sure looks nice but where are really going?

  19. Sam Spade says: Jul 17, 2013 11:18 AM

    Here’s something interesting that often makes the difference between 10-6 and 6-10 on a middling team.

    The Vikings’ D recovered 20 of 21 fumbles in 2012. Opponents recovered only 12 of 23.

    Fumbles are unpredictable and a regression to the mean is likely. Not saying the Vikes can’t overcome a FR deficit, but it’s hard without an improved passing game.

  20. stellarperformance says: Jul 17, 2013 11:23 AM

    This team sounds pretty formidable. All the comments are on the upside, not the downside. If this isn’t a make it or break it season for Ponder, nothing is.

  21. banlarson says: Jul 17, 2013 11:24 AM

    Guess if you are going to put the Bears at 18, then 16 for the Vikings makes sense, although I would put both slightly higher. Obviously they got the Ponder issue right, but the “horn” is played after 1st downs, not TD’s, they have a cannon for that.

    Overall not a bad assessment, repeating what all the talking heads have been saying. We’ll see, nobody thought they would make the playoffs after 3 wins in 2011 and given our draft and the fact that the young guys are a year older (2nd youngest team in the league), they definitely got better in the off-season.

    I don’t think there are 15 teams left that the Bears and Vikings couldn’t put a hurt on.

  22. 7ransponder says: Jul 17, 2013 11:29 AM

    You know, I put a lot of work into my comment and thought it added to the discussion – you could at least tell people WHY you remove their comments when they don’t seem to break any of your secret-NSA-style rules.

  23. taintedsaints2009 says: Jul 17, 2013 11:31 AM

    I agree with you about Sullivan. He is good but he gets injured way too much. I still do not understand for the life of me why they chose him over Matt birk. Birk went on to win a Super Bowl. Thanks, brad Childress.

  24. jsbrasha says: Jul 17, 2013 11:39 AM

    Not a Vikes fan, but they are a team that will compete every week. I don’t take issue with this ranking for the reasons others have mentioned (Ponder question marks and the transition to a winner’s mentality).

    However, I can’t believe the Cowboys are going to be 15 or higher! Are you kidding me? They finished 8-8 a season ago and there’s no reason to believe they will do any better. I would wager they will do worse. Romo was playing for a contract last year and is now sitting on a fat wallet. The Eagles will be more consistent and Jimmy just botched another draft.

  25. mattblairfan59 says: Jul 17, 2013 11:49 AM

    OK, Christian Ponder doesn’t have the strongest arm in the world. He has what Jaworski, Billick, and others call a more than adequate arm. With that being said, he did not have any receivers that could get open other than Percy Harvin for the first 9 games of the year. When Harvin was injured, they brought in Jarius Wright who quickly became their best receiver and only down-field threat. It’s not that Ponder can’t throw the ball more than 10 yards down the field, it’s that there was rarely ever a receiver open past 10 yards! If you watch the tape of the receivers down field, you would see that they were covered like white on rice most of the time. Now with Greg Jennings, an excellent route runner, he’ll have one guy he can trust to be in the right spot and get open. Patterson, if nothing else, can stretch the field and out jump defenders. He’s also very quick, and can do some of the same things Harvin did – bubble screens, reverses, etc. Jerome Simpson may surprise if he stays healthy – something he wasn’t last year. Kyle Rudolph will only be that much better going into his third season. If Ponder doesn’t throw interception on a regular basis, this offense will be drastically improved (yes, still an “if”) He did go seven or eight straight games without an INT to start last year it should be noted.

    I think their passing Def will be much better too. Bishop would be a huge upgrade in pass defense compared to Jasper Brinkley and Erin Henderson – both were horrible last year. Winfield will be missed, but the Xavier is much younger, much bigger, and a better pass defender than Winfield is/was.

  26. purplehaze28 says: Jul 17, 2013 11:50 AM

    Percy Harvin got into Ponder’s head too much. Kind of like a nagging backseat-driver wife, who makes you second-guess everything.

    He did great without that distraction. In the final four games of the season, he had the second highest QB rating in the entire NFL.
    He will build on that, now that he has receivers who will respect him.

    The Vikings put up almost as many points on the Packers as San Francisco did.

    They will be competitive for the NFC North title.

    If Ponder screws up, Matt Cassels is an excellent QB to have in your back pocket, who has proven that he can succeed with the right tools around him.

  27. darocnessmonsta says: Jul 17, 2013 12:03 PM

    I suppose the Cowboys will be 15th since thats where Jaws Ranks Romo Amongst the NFL QB’s which in my opinion is B.S Romo is still top 10

  28. jimmysee says: Jul 17, 2013 12:33 PM

    Can’t wait to see those Vikings-Loins games this season.

    The Battle for Respect!

    Who gets it. Who needs it.

  29. 7ransponder says: Jul 17, 2013 12:41 PM

    For once I agree with the positioning of my team on a PFT ranking list. You can’t go lower because you need to remember that this team made the playoffs last year after having a horrible 2011, you cannot discount that. Ranking them higher is iffy because of Ponder. I believe in the guy, but I understand the caution being applied, it’s not unfounded. It just wouldn’t be a Vikings season without a little QB “will he won’t he” talk, after all.

    A few things though:

    - Shariff does not need to make an “immediate impact” in our defensive scheme, where he will play the 3-tech and be rotated in and out based on the playcalling situation. Expect Robison and Allen to play lights out this year, being a contract year for both of them.

    - The backfield is going to earn a ton of respect this year because with Winfield out, I think Cook steps up his game and Harrison is the x-factor we didn’t have there before who has nowhere to go but up. X-Rhodes has a long road ahead of him, learning the ropes against arguably the toughest QB division in the league, and elite threats Megatron and Marshall, but if he shines early, he will command respect from the likes of Rodgers and Stafford.

    - The WR + TE angle is less of a question mark than I think most people are making it out to be. Jennings is a proven sure hands talent, and his presence alone is going to make the others better. Patterson is raw, sure, but raw athleticism can get you far if the other team’s backfield knows they have to stop Peterson every down (forget the DL, he wrecks them all), along with short yard gains over the top from Rudolph and Wright. This allows Ponder to (if he can) lay it out for Patterson and see how well he does with deep Moss-esque catches – which, lest we forget, Simpson can do too. If this deep threat develops even slightly, this offense has crazy potential.

    Starting in the middle of the group with the potential for high upside is a good place to be in the NFL – has done wonders for teams in the past. Even if we falter, I say we stay average and finish 8-8 worst-case scenario, fighting for a wild-card spot to the finish – the NFC is going to be crazy on the parity scale this season, I think.

    This season can’t start fast enough… awesome new design jersey on my back, I am ready.

  30. thetruthcampaign says: Jul 17, 2013 12:57 PM

    I’ll have to Ponder that one for awhile.

  31. conormacleod says: Jul 17, 2013 12:58 PM

    Not surprising to see so many Ponder haters on here. I highly doubt most of you saw every down of every game last season. A season in which Ponder’s team went 10-6 after Ponder’s only off season of football (remember the strike?).

    Oh, but it was all because of AP you say? Well, AP is still there, so that’s good. Plus, all O-lineman back, improved wide receivers, pro bowl running back and tight end, and Ponder’s second ful off season of his career.

    And oh ya, the defense has also improved. Sure, it’s all on paper. But there really isn’t any negatives that you can talk about compared to last season. I haven’t heard one Vikings fan say “we’re going to the Superbowl”. But, we fully expect a playoff berth, and an improved team this year and over the next several years. Football is cyclical, and the Vikings are on the rise.

  32. conormacleod says: Jul 17, 2013 1:00 PM

    You can’t just ignore the fact that Ponder has a veteran back-up to both push him and to teach him. Joe Webb was the back-up last year. A veteran back-up that can talk to your QB during a game will help tremendously.

  33. contra74 says: Jul 17, 2013 1:07 PM

    A bag of kittens is more of a threat than Romo

  34. ruvelligwebuike says: Jul 17, 2013 1:17 PM

    “Here’s something interesting that often makes the difference between 10-6 and 6-10 on a middling team.

    The Vikings’ D recovered 20 of 21 fumbles in 2012. Opponents recovered only 12 of 23.

    Fumbles are unpredictable and a regression to the mean is likely. Not saying the Vikes can’t overcome a FR deficit, but it’s hard without an improved passing game.”
    ————————-

    I change my prediction from 10-6 to 8-8…I didn’t know that. In order to win a Super Bowl, you have to be very good and very lucky. The Vikings appeared to have every ball bounce their way last year, plus they got a season out of Peterson that was once in a generation. And they went 10-6.

    In their stretch run last year, I really only remember them playing high level football against the Packers and Houston. The beat the Rams in St. Louis, but I’ve never seen a team play that bad for 3 quarters in my life. Weren’t the Vikings up like 30-0 at half?

    I’m just ranting. No one know jack until the season is here.

  35. obsessedvikingfan says: Jul 17, 2013 1:20 PM

    Let’s try this again.

    jprcox says:Jul 17, 2013 10:48 AM

    10 teams go to the playoffs, so 16 means you think they are going to miss the playoffs? My guess is Vikings are a playoff team, so I was a bit surprised by this ranking.
    ________________________________

    Actually, 12 teams make the playoffs. 4 division winners and 2 wildcards from each conference.

    Now, before you delete or report this comment, what the Heck is wrong with it?

  36. larryboodry says: Jul 17, 2013 1:20 PM

    Having the Vikes and Bears within two spots of each other makes sense, but I too would have ranked both higher…They are both capable of 10+ wins, along with GB, which makes the NFC North the strongest division in the league. (I don’t see the Rams as a third contender in the West, at least not yet.)

    As a Bears fan, I have taken shots at Ponder in the past, but I believe that he will be better this year…If not, AP will not be able to carry the team by himself.

  37. thompsonway says: Jul 17, 2013 1:21 PM

    I am very glad that the Vikings are listed at #16. The NFC North will be a lot of fun this year. If only the Lions could just get it together, then the NFC North would be the toughest division in the NFL.
    IMO – Packers will not be as good. I think they took a step back. Bears – unknown, with new coaching staff. Lions – might be good if they could just spell “TEAM” this year.
    Lets toast to some late season division battles.

  38. Rick Spielman is a Magician says: Jul 17, 2013 1:22 PM

    taintedsaints2009 says:Jul 17, 2013 11:31 AM

    I agree with you about Sullivan. He is good but he gets injured way too much. I still do not understand for the life of me why they chose him over Matt birk. Birk went on to win a Super Bowl. Thanks, brad Childress.
    _______

    They didn’t choose him over Matt Birk. Matt Birk chose the Ravens over Brad Childress. Sullivan is now one of the best centers in the league and Birk is retired, so what are you complaining about now?

  39. ctiggs says: Jul 17, 2013 1:28 PM

    Samantha Would get the Steele

  40. valhalla2013 says: Jul 17, 2013 1:35 PM

    themostlogicalofvoices says:
    As a diehard Packer fan….I’m not sure about the ranking and frankly I don’t care…The battles in the north this year are going to be epic and the MN vs GB games are going to be some of the best football in the NFL this year.
    Wow a Packers Fan that’s not foaming at the mouth and has a lot of common sense! I can’t wait too!

  41. textexington says: Jul 17, 2013 1:36 PM

    Winning 4 Superbowls>Losing 4 Superbowls. Packers>Viqueefs.LOLZ.Go Pack Go!!!

  42. ososrule says: Jul 17, 2013 1:55 PM

    Ridiculous! Maybe it was a fat finger, should be 26th spot!

  43. brobokil says: Jul 17, 2013 1:57 PM

    Jazsrt, I have no idea who said each thing in your post, or what point youre trying to make. I liked the first post you quoted, after that, uuuuh what?

    Jprcox (and the 40 people whove given you a thumbs up), there are 12 teams that go to the playoffs, not 10. You and your 40 are no longer to be taken seriously on the subject of football.

  44. Rick Spielman is a Magician says: Jul 17, 2013 1:58 PM

    Sam Spade says:Jul 17, 2013 11:18 AM

    Here’s something interesting that often makes the difference between 10-6 and 6-10 on a middling team.

    The Vikings’ D recovered 20 of 21 fumbles in 2012. Opponents recovered only 12 of 23.

    Fumbles are unpredictable and a regression to the mean is likely. Not saying the Vikes can’t overcome a FR deficit, but it’s hard without an improved passing game.
    ______

    I thought that fumble stat sounded unbelievable so I looked it up. According to ESPN, the Vikings forced 19 fumbles and recovered 12 last year. Now what do you think?

  45. rtp295 says: Jul 17, 2013 2:04 PM

    As a diehard Packer fan this ranking seem right, the Vikings really suprised me last year and I think the NFC North will be the tightest division in football this year. That being said I still believe they deserve to be behind GB, Atlanta, Seattle, San Fran and even the Giants until proven otherwise, hate to admit it but this may be the year they do. Can’t wait for the season to start!

  46. purplepat69 says: Jul 17, 2013 2:04 PM

    Vikings fan here. 16th is about right…Vikes were a marginal playoff team last year, which should place them in the top 12 roughly. IMO, Vikes could be a few spots above or below that #12 spot, so 16 is OK.

    Vikes have a murderous road sked this year…Lions only team that was below .500 in ’12…then again Pack and Bears have similarly tough road skeds too.

    Ponder’s early career stats may not look like Ryan’s, but they are similar to Eli Manning and Matt Stafford’s at the same point in their careers. Ponder may not have a cannon for an arm, but it’s not like he can’t throw the ball deep or with any zip. His biggest problem (IMO) is still his footwork when he doesn’t have a clean pocket. He occasionally still makes the boneheaded decision too (ala INT to Burnett). But Ponder (and the Vikings) looked pretty formidable over their final four regular season games in ’12, against some quality opponents, and also manhandled the Niners earlier in the year. If that doesn’t demonstrate to the non-believers how good the Vikings are (or can be), nothing will. If Ponder actually takes that “next step” where he can consistently pick apart 8 in the box, Vikings will beat out the Pack for the division title.

  47. brobokil says: Jul 17, 2013 2:07 PM

    I forgot to say what I wanted to say, lol, which is this ranking is way too low. Vikings win the division and win at least 1 playoff game this year, with a real chance for the superbowl. You watch, and remember how i was right (as ALWAYS)

  48. toddc612 says: Jul 17, 2013 2:11 PM

    Not sure about you guys, but I think the fact that Matt Cassel is here makes all the difference in the world. For all the inconsistency of Ponder (up one week, down the next), we won’t have games like the first GB game last year where he looks absolutely lost (and have no choice but to keep him in the game). We know now that was because we had no legimate back-up in the wings. I know Cassel had his issues with KC, but he proved in his first few seasons that he could get the job done. Poor QB performances shouldn’t be tolerated this year and Ponder should be yanked if he starts to lose it.

    That being said, all Ponder has to do is be AVERAGE. How many times last year were Ponder’s stats so unbelievably pitiful that he shouldn’t even be mentioned as a starting quarterbacks? Multiple sub-100 yard games? Seriously? It felt like McNabb was QB again. Don’t force it and don’t turn over the ball, nothing flashy.

    Please, be average Ponder, we beg you.

    And to the contingent of GB trolls that always feel the need to pipe in on Vikings articles. Please remember that GB made it exactly one game further than the Vikings last year (while playing without our starting QB), before getting stuffed by SF. And we split our divisional games. Teams seemed pretty even to me — don’t you think? Not sure why you’re parading around ranking us last in the division. I know you need attention, and we forgive you.

  49. silentfreedom5 says: Jul 17, 2013 3:30 PM

    Way to low, also why do we need Floyd to make a quick impact? He is here to sit and learn from k-will and eventual take k-will’s spot

  50. silentfreedom5 says: Jul 17, 2013 3:32 PM

    Rick Spielman is a Magician says:
    Jul 17, 2013 1:58 PM
    Sam Spade says:Jul 17, 2013 11:18 AM

    Here’s something interesting that often makes the difference between 10-6 and 6-10 on a middling team.

    The Vikings’ D recovered 20 of 21 fumbles in 2012. Opponents recovered only 12 of 23.

    Fumbles are unpredictable and a regression to the mean is likely. Not saying the Vikes can’t overcome a FR deficit, but it’s hard without an improved passing game.
    ______

    I thought that fumble stat sounded unbelievable so I looked it up. According to ESPN, the Vikings forced 19 fumbles and recovered 12 last year. Now what do you think?
    ———————————————
    I thought the bears were the team that relied on TO’s not the Vikes

  51. vikingsrulez69 says: Jul 17, 2013 3:38 PM

    Rick Spielman is a Magician says:Jul 17, 2013 1:58 PM

    Sam Spade says:Jul 17, 2013 11:18 AM

    Here’s something interesting that often makes the difference between 10-6 and 6-10 on a middling team.

    The Vikings’ D recovered 20 of 21 fumbles in 2012. Opponents recovered only 12 of 23.

    Fumbles are unpredictable and a regression to the mean is likely. Not saying the Vikes can’t overcome a FR deficit, but it’s hard without an improved passing game.
    ______

    I thought that fumble stat sounded unbelievable so I looked it up. According to ESPN, the Vikings forced 19 fumbles and recovered 12 last year. Now what do you think?

    ———-

    I think I liked it better when we recovered 20 of 21!!! Maybe this year!!!! Fingers crossed!!!!!

  52. kurmudge says: Jul 17, 2013 4:07 PM

    It is absolutely true that 1) this thing depends on further growth from Ponder, and 2) he now has people to throw to, so the excuses if he underperforms are gone.

    But the comments about how awful he was last year are a bit overdone. Compare his record with Cutler’s 2012, with Drew Brees’ second year, with Tom Brady’s second year (2001) when the stats were almost identical, right down to total passing yardage, #TD/INT, and games with barely 100 yards or less passing.

    Not everyone is Andrew Luck. I expect Ponder, if he can stop getting hurt all the time, to end up something like Rich Gannon or Matt Hasselbeck at about the same age or younger.

  53. squared80 says: Jul 17, 2013 4:16 PM

    This is about right for the Vikings. Ponder is one of the only X-factors hindering the team. The offense will be high-flying if Ponder steps up, and the defense is young but good.

    A lot is made of the MLB position, but the nickel slot is the real position of concern for the Vikings. Rhodes and Cook will play the outside, which will probably force Robinson into that role. Robinson is on his way to being a very good outside corner, but the nickel is a completely different beast, where 4.2 speed isn’t everything.

  54. stellarperformance says: Jul 17, 2013 5:02 PM

    If Ponder clicks, the Packers (and Bears and Lions) are going to have their hands full. The Packer running game has to be an X-factor if they want to continue their dominance of the division (and I think it will be.)

  55. bigbluefanatic says: Jul 17, 2013 8:54 PM

    Seems high, but this may be the toughest division to predict this year. Any of the non-Pack teams could wind up 11-5 or 5-11. Should be fun to watch!

  56. wiseguy12 says: Jul 17, 2013 10:53 PM

    The Vikings played competitively in 2012. The impact of the off season moves remains to be seen. The team lost its best receiver and defensive back, but may be better overall if the new additions play up to their potential. Everyone agrees that Ponder is the key. He does not have a strong arm, his throws are inaccurate and he makes bad decisions (especially under pressure). The first two flaws are not likely to improve much, but an improved receiving unit might make up for some of that. If he does not make better decisions I do not see him finishing the season as the starter. I think overall the team will be better if injuries do not become a major problem but ultimately the entire team has to outplay the opposition to remain competitive in this division.

  57. filthymcnasty1 says: Jul 18, 2013 7:47 AM

    As long as the hapless, tasteless Vikings are led by that noodle armed Ponder chick, they aren’t going anywhere.

  58. azeller123 says: Jul 18, 2013 10:35 AM

    Everyone bashing Christian ponder does realize that he led them to victories over SF HOU and took the best shot GB and the best qb in the league could give and still one by making plays why do you think AP could run for all those yards because Ponder was doing what was needed and more. If it wasn’t for some fluke injury that playoff game would have been much different. They vikings only got better and deeper this off-season. What did the packers do. Did they get a big name wr no they lost theirs did they draft for need or for the best player available? Need and waited til the second round to do so missing on. The better running back. The packers continue to fall and the vikings continue to rise. Packers don’t make the playoffs this year.

  59. tokyosandblaster says: Jul 18, 2013 11:32 AM

    Well, they’ll be picking top five in the draft next year. It’s quite clear to everyone that doesn’t worship the HGH MVP that the Vikings overachieved last year.

    The Vikings will wind up last in the division, and be lucky to win more than 4 games.

  60. Rick Spielman is a Magician says: Jul 18, 2013 11:44 AM

    tokyosandblaster says:Jul 18, 2013 11:32 AM

    Well, they’ll be picking top five in the draft next year. It’s quite clear to everyone that doesn’t worship the HGH MVP that the Vikings overachieved last year.

    The Vikings will wind up last in the division, and be lucky to win more than 4 games.
    _____

    I think I’ll keep track of your predictions this year and we’ll see how you did. Thanks for playing.

  61. tokyosandblaster says: Jul 18, 2013 12:00 PM

    You’re welcome.

    Thanks for responding with profile number 346.

    Also, thanks for using one of the most cliché endings in the blog universe. If you could use “fact” or “’nuff said” next, you’ll solidify yourself as the internet’s biggest tool, snatching the title away from genxjay, who stole it from chi01town. At least you Vikings and bears fans are good for a laugh.

  62. emoney826 says: Jul 18, 2013 2:36 PM

    Say what you want, but packer fans have been more accurate over the past few years guessing how teams will finish. Viking fans say every year that the packers are falling off and won’t make the playoffs, yet every year, its the complete opposite. As for the vikings, though none of us guessed they’d finish 2nd last year, we’re usually right about where theyll finish. This year, in my honest opinion,theyll finish 3rd. Saying last will only make me sound like a hater. I’m just being real. Sorry viking fans.

  63. 52lightsxout52 says: Jul 19, 2013 10:25 AM

    I would have to put Minnesota ahead of Pittsburgh and Dallas. Minnesota may be suspect at QB but they are clearly more talented than those two teams. Dallas and Pittsburgh look destined for 8-8 or worse…

  64. cusoman says: Jul 19, 2013 11:19 AM

    emoney826 says:
    Jul 18, 2013 2:36 PM
    Say what you want, but packer fans have been more accurate over the past few years guessing how teams will finish.
    ….
    none of us guessed they’d finish 2nd last year, we’re usually right about where theyll finish.

    ——————————–

    This is why people can’t stand fans like you.

  65. contra74 says: Jul 19, 2013 4:39 PM

    Whenever Packer fans speak I have to remind myself that this is the fanbase that was tricked into giving up their hard earned cash for fake stock with the perception that they are part owners. Cracks me up every time!

  66. oshkoshoz says: Jul 19, 2013 8:25 PM

    11-5 is how the Vikings finish this season, tied with Chicago with Green Bay at 9-7 and the Bears at 8-8. It’s going to be another great year in the best division in the NFL: The NFC Norris (North).

  67. ephilly04 says: Jul 26, 2013 12:41 PM

    As a Vikes Fan I am torn. I believe that AP is the best back in the business, but if a defense puts 8 in the box all season I can’t see long term success. Granted, he’s a horse and will get his 5 yards per carry regardless. I believe the loss of Percy Harvin will hurt us more then we know. He was a quick out, slant, slot reciever who would allow Ponder to get the ball out of his hands quickly and also have defenses decided whether to drop a LB’er or two back to cover such routes or to stack on AP. Ponder has yet to prove that he can be accuarate down the field even when he has the capability of scrambling out of the pocket. He still does not produce big plays down the field. If we can incorporate Rudolph even more this year and just a jump ball to Patterson once in awhile, we would be a top ten team.

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