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Minnesota Vikings Predictions

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The Vikings came out of nowhere to make the playoffs in 2012. Minnesota was fresh off a disastrous 3-13 finish in 2012, and star running back Adrian Peterson was entering the season recovering from a torn ACL. The Vikings closed out the regular season with four straight wins to sneak into the playoffs as the final Wild Card team at 10-6. Nearly all of the credit was given to Peterson, who somehow managed to come back even stronger than he was before the injury. He rushed for 2,097 yards (nearly broke Eric Dickerson’s single season record) and was named the league’s MVP.

Peterson’s incredible year was so strong that it overshadowed a less than impressive season out of second-year quarterback Christian Ponder. Even with opposing teams loading the box to try and slow down Peterson, Ponder only managed to throw for 2,935 yards and 19 touchdowns. Minnesota’s 171.9 yards per game through the air was the second worst mark in the NFL. The defense played well, but their 22 forced turnovers ranked in the bottom five of the NFC. Regardless of the numbers, the expectations are going to be very high in Leslie Frasier’s third full season with the Vikings.

Last Season
NFC North
Record
ATS Record
Home ATS
Road ATS
Over/Under
2nd
10-6
8-7-1
5-2-1
3-5
7-9
Offense Rank
Defense Rank
Turnover Margin
Points For
Points Against
20th
16th
-1
23.7
21.8
2013 Roster Changes
Draft Picks
DT Sharrif Floyd, CB Xavier Rhodes, WR Cordarrelle Patterson, OLB Gerald Hodges, P Jeff Locke.
Additions
QB Matt Cassel, WR Greg Jennings, G Seth Olsen, ILB Desmond Bishop.
Losses
WR Percy Harvin, WR Michael Jenkins, G Geoff Schwartz, ILB Jasper Brinkley, CB Antoine Winfield, P Chris Kluwe.
Key Numbers for 2013
Draft Grade
Preseason Power Ranking
Strength of Schedule
A+
12th
3.61
10th
Head Coach Leslie Frazier
*Records for regular season only.
Overall
ATS
Home
Home ATS
Road
Road ATS
16-22
19-19
9-10
10-9
7-12
9-10
Off of a Bye
Off of a Bye ATS
Off of a Loss
Off of a Loss ATS
0-2
0-2
8-12
11-9
Schedule
2013 Minnesota Vikings Schedule
Date Opponent
Spread (Est.)
Win Chance
9/8 @ Lions
+2.5
0.45
9/15 @ Bears
+2.5
0.45
9/22 Browns
-6.5
0.72
9/29 Steelers*
+1.5
0.47
Week 5 BYE
10/13 Panthers
-2.5
0.55
10/21 @ Giants
+3
0.41
10/27 Packers
+1
0.49
11/3 @ Cowboys
+1.5
0.47
11/7 Redskins
-1.5
0.53
11/17 @ Seahawks
+6
0.29
11/24 @ Packers
+4.5
0.33
12/1 Bears
-1.5
0.53
12/8 @ Ravens
+3.5
0.36
12/15 Eagles
-3.5
0.64
12/22 @ Bengals
+2.5
0.45
12/29 Lions
-3
0.59
Estimated Wins: 7.73

Minnesota has a pretty difficult schedule ahead of them in 2013. The Vikings have the difficult task of opening up the season with back-to-back division road games at Detroit and Chicago. They catch a bit of a breather with a home game against the Browns, but must travel to London to take on the Steelers in Week 4. That game against Pittsburgh is significant, as it leaves Minnesota with just seven true home games. It also has them taking an early bye week, forcing them to play 12 straight weeks to finish out the season.

If you thought the opening four weeks were tough, things get a lot harder after the Vikings return from their bye week. From Week 6 to Week 14 they have to play four different teams that made playoffs last year, including the Packers twice. During this stretch they host Carolina, Green Bay, Washington and Chicago, while going on the road to face the likes of the Giants, Cowboys, Seahawks, Packers and Ravens. I think it’s pretty safe to say that these nine-games will define their season.

The Vikings will have a chance to close out the season strong with a couple of home games against the Eagles and Lions, but must face another playoff team on the road in Cincinnati.

Including that Week 4 showdown in London vs the Steelers, Minnesota must play eight road games against teams who finished .500 or better in 2012. If you need any more proof that the schedule is stacked against the Vikings, our expected odds have them listed as a favorite in just 6 of their 16 games in 2013.

Odds
Regular Season Win Total
to Win the NFC
to Win Super Bowl XLVIII
7.5
25 to 1
40 to 1
Odds Courtesty of Bovada
Predictions

As big of an improvement that the Vikings made last year, I just don’t think there’s enough talent on this roster for them match last year’s success. The NFL is a quarterback driven league, and I think it’s pretty safe to say that Ponder is the worst starter the NFC North has to offer. On top of that, the schedule is absolutely brutal compared to what they faced last year.

If it wasn’t for the fact that they have arguably the top offensive weapon in the game in Peterson, I would have picked them to finish even worst than 7-9. With all five starters back on a young and talented offensive line, I wouldn’t put it past Peterson to top 2,000 yards again in 2013. However, chances are he’s going to regress some. While it may be a small decline, this team needed all 2,097 yards just to make the playoffs last year.

Another key factor pointing to the Vikings taking a step back is the loss of the multi-talented Percy Harvin, who was traded to Seattle. Despite only playing in nine games in 2012, Harvin still managed to lead the team with 62 receptions and 677 yards. Minnesota went out and signed veteran free agent Greg Jennings and traded back into the first round to select Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson, but I’m not sure that’s enough to help Ponder take that next step. Jennings will see a lot more double-teams than he saw in Green Bay and is injury prone. Patterson should help in the return game right away, but he’s still raw as a receiver and could take a year or two to adjust to the NFL game.

What gives the Vikings a chance at exceeding my expectations is a defense that could be one of the elite units in the NFL. Minnesota used two of their three first round picks on defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and corner Xavier Rhodes. Floyd likely won’t start, but should see plenty of action behind Kevin Williams and Letroy Guion. Rhodes, on the other hand, will be forced to start opposite of Chris Cook after the departure of veteran Antoine Winfield. The Vikings also solved a huge need at middle linebacker when they picked up Desmond Bishop in June. The success of the defense lies heavily in the hands of talented defensive ends Jared Allen, Brian Robison and Everson Griffen, who combined for 44 sacks (each had at least eight) last year. If these three can continue to put pressure on the quarterback, it will keep opposing teams from exposing a below average secondary.

Projections
NFC North Finish
Division Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
T-3rd
2-4
7-9
Under 7.5
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