While the Minnesota Vikings only improved marginally on their 5-11 record from 2013, last year’s 7-9 mark provided a lot of optimism. Minnesota believes they found a franchise quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater and first year head coach Mike Zimmer completely changed the culture of the defense. Not to mention the Vikings got just 1 game out of future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson.

It’s definitely a concern that of the 7 wins Minnesota recorded, none of them came against a team that finished with a winning record, but it’s not like this team wasn’t competitive against the top teams in the league. The Vikings had 5 losses by 8-points or less and 4 of those came during their 5-4 finish to the season.

Not a lot of people are talking about the Vikings as a serious playoff contender, but I certainly believe this team is poised for a breakout season.

Last Season
NFC North
ATS Record
Home ATS
Road ATS
Offense Rank
Defense Rank
Turnover Margin
Points For
Points Against
2015 Roster Changes
Draft Picks
Trae Waynes (CB), Eric Kendricks (ILB), Danielle Hunter (DE), T.J. Clemmings (OT), MyCole Pruitt (TE), Stefon Diggs (WR), Tyrus Thompson (OT), B.J. Dubose (DE), Austin Shepherd (OT), Edmond Robinson (OLB)
Mike Wallace (WR), Terence Newman (CB), Taylor Mays (FS), Casey Matthews (ILB), DuJuan Harris (RB), Shaun Hill (QB)
Matt Cassel (QB), Greg Jennings (WR), J’Marcus Webb (OT), Jerome Felton (FB), Vladimir Ducasse (OG), Jasper Brinkley (MLB), Christian Ponder (QB), Chandler Harnish (QB), Corey Wootton (DT)
2015 Schedule & Odds
Week Opponent Spread Win Chance
1 @ 49ers +4.5 0.33
2 Lions PK 0.50
3 Chargers PK 0.50
4 @ Broncos +7 0.25
6 Chiefs -1 0.51
7 @ Lions +5 0.32
8 @ Bears +2 0.47
9 Rams PK 0.50
10 @ Raiders -1.5 0.53
11 Packers +3 0.41
12 @ Falcons +1.5 0.47
13 Seahawks +4.5 0.33
14 @ Cardinals +5.5 0.31
15 Bears -2.5 0.55
16 Giants -1.5 0.53
17 @ Packers +7 0.25
Estimated Wins: 7.55
Roster Breakdown

Considering Minnesota was working with a rookie quarterback and without their best offensive player in Peterson for basically the entire season, it wasn’t a big surprise to see them finishing in the bottom half of the league in both total offense (315.5 ypg, 27th) and scoring offense (20.3 ppg, 20th).

Bridgewater ended up throwing for 2,919 yards with 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, not great numbers by any means, but when you factor in the lack of respect opposing teams had to pay to the running game and the lack of talent at wide receiver, it was a pretty impressive rookie season. Not to mention, Bridgewater’s 64.4% completion percentage was the 3rd best all-time by a rookie.

How bad was the receiving corps? Bad enough that Charles Johnson, who was claimed of the Cleveland Browns practice squad, emerged as the No. 1 option. While Johnson figures to remain a key part of the passing game, the hope is that Cordarrelle Patterson can rebound from a disappointing sophomore season and newly acquired deep-threat Mike Wallace can revert to his form with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Vikings also are expected to incorporate tight end Kyle Rudolph more into the offense, as injuries have kept him from playing up to his potential.

Another promising sign for Bridgewater taking that next step, is the offensive line figures to be better than it was in 2014. Left tackle Matt Kalil was hampered by knee problems and should be better off in 2015. They got rid of a liability at left guard in Charlie Johnson. Right guard Brandon Fusco will move to the left side and the hope is that rookie T.J. Clemmings can step in and start in place of Fusco at right guard.

Last but not least, the offense will take on a whole new dynamic with the return of Adrian Peterson, who has made it clear that he plans on taking out his frustrations from missing most of last season on the rest of the NFL. Peterson is nearing the end of his prime, but still has enough in the tank to be the best back in the league. If he’s anywhere close to 2,000 yards, this offense is going to be greatly improved.

Some might have been surprised with how the Vikings defense went from last in the league in scoring defense in 2013 (30.0 ppg) to the top half in 2014 (21.4 ppg, 11th). I wasn’t. That’s how good of a defensive coach that Zimmer is and it figures to only get better in year 2.

The defensive line is anchored by a couple of emerging stars in defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and defensive end Everson Griffin. Floyd was a dominant presence in the trenches, while Griffin led the team with 12 sacks. Minnesota also returns starting defensive tackle Linval Joseph and talented backup Tom Johnson (6.5 sacks). The key for this unit will be getting more out of veteran defensive end Brian Robison, who had just 4.5 sacks after registering at least 8 in each of the previous 3 years.

At linebacker the Vikings have another promising star in the makings in outside linebacker Anthony Barr, who was in the Rookie Defensive Player of the Year discussions before a knee injury. Barr will be joined by former UCLA teammate and best friend Eric Kendricks, who Minnesota selected with their 2nd round pick and is expected to start right away at middle linebacker. Veteran Chad Greenway will likely open as the other starter on the outside, but has shown signs of major regression and could be pushed for playing time by backup Gerald Hodges.

The secondary might just be the strength of the defense. Minnesota has two more rising stars in the defensive backfield in corner Xavier Rhodes and safety Harrison Smith. The unit could be elite if 1st round rookie corner Trae Waynes is as good as advertised and 2nd-year safety Antone Exum Jr. takes the strides that Zimmer is expecting. They also added veteran corner Terence Newman and safety Taylor Mays from Cincinnati.

Future Odds
Regular Season Win Total
to Win the NFC
to Win Super Bowl L
to Make Playoffs
28 to 1
70 to 1
Odds Courtesty of 5Dimes

While I’m not about to pick the Vikings to overtake the Green Bay Packers (won 4 straight division titles) for the top spot in the NFC North, I do believe Minnesota is going to finish ahead of both Detroit and Chicago and challenge for a Wild Card in the NFC.

I really think the Vikings are on the verge of building a serious contender. With AP back in the mix on offense and Bridgewater in line for a big improvement in year two, Minnesota’s offense should be able to generate a lot more points than they did a season ago. Defensively, this team has the potential to be great with so much young talent and a better understanding of what Zimmer is expecting with his aggressive attack that thrives on multiple fronts and blitz packages.

As with every team in the NFC North, the schedule isn’t easy in 2015, as they draw both the NFC West and AFC West. Minnesota does benefit from drawing both the Falcons and Giants in their two cross-conference matchups and have a very manageable home schedule aside from two games against the Packers and Seahawks.

I’m calling for the Vikings to go 9-7, which should have them right in the thick of things for a Wild Card spot. With Minnesota’s win total sitting at 6.5, it’s safe to say that the Vikings OVER 6.5 is one of my favorite win total bets of 2015.

NFC North Finish
Division Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
OVER 6.5
Vikings 10-Year Recap
Year W L Playoffs Coach Win Total
2014 7 9 Zimmer 6
2013 5 10 Frazier 7
2012 10 6 Lost WC Frazier 6
2011 3 13 Frazier 7
2010 6 10 Childress/Frazier 9.5
2009 12 4 Lost Conf Childress 9.5
2008 10 6 Lost WC Childress 8.5
2007 8 8 Childress 6.5
2006 6 10 Childress 8
2005 9 7 Tice 9

Adam Warwas

Adam Warwas

OVER 6.5 Wins – The 2015 Minnesota Vikings seem to have many, but not quite all, of the stars aligning for a big season. They have the talent to win 14 games, they really do, but they also have enough question marks to wonder if they won’t just unravel in ways that would only feel all-too-familiar to Vikings fans. Mike Zimmer’s defense is potent enough that I think their floor is six wins, no matter how many injuries or issues impact the team. Outside of left tackle, Norv Turner’s offense looks poised to be the best Minnesota has had since 2009, and they might be better than that if everything goes well. Injuries, sophomore slumps, off-field issues… these are all concerns to any Vikings fan that has been paying attention over the last decade. Putting history aside, however, Teddy Bridgewater, Adrian Peterson, and Harrison Smith are ready to put the Vikings into the playoffs and I see 10 wins as a reasonable total in 2015.

Christopher Gates

Christopher Gates

OVER 6.5 Wins – Last season, the Minnesota Vikings played 15 games without their best player, got 12 starts from a rookie quarterback, had a player that was expected to break out that flopped horribly, and their best receiver was a guy they stole from the Cleveland Browns’ practice squad. . .and they still managed to win seven games under new coach Mike Zimmer. This season, they get Peterson back (and angry), Teddy Bridgewater is more experienced and has developed a nice rapport with his receiving corps, and the team has a promising young defense that’s looking to take another step forward as they adapt to the Zimmer/George Edwards system.

With all of those things being the case, I’m surprised to see the Vikings’ over/under for wins sitting at 6.5. I may have a little bit of a bias, but seriously. . .sell your car, mortgage your house, empty the college fund, and bet it on the over.* You’ll be collecting sooner rather than later, as there’s no reason this team shouldn’t win 10 games in 2015.

* – Don’t actually do any of those things. Well, except the “bet the over” part. Bet responsibly.

Vikings Diaries

Cristy Brusoe

OVER 6.5 Wins – The Vikings will without a doubt be over 6.5 wins. I have them beating the Lions, Chargers, Chiefs, Bears, Rams, Raiders, Falcons, Cardinals and Giants. They could also easily take two games from the Bears or Lions. I don’t see them beating the Packers either game.

Drew Mahowald

Drew Mahowald

OVER 6.5 Wins – I say over 6.5 wins for the Vikings this season for a couple of reasons.

First of all, they get Adrian Peterson back, and the same team went 7-9 without him last season. It would be hard for me to predict the Vikings finishing with less wins WITH Peterson than without him.

Second, the entire team is now one year more mature than last year. Yes, that’s true for every team. But the Vikings were a team loaded with young talent that was still trying to figure things out in 2014. I can’t imagine they would take a step back in 2015.

My prediction for the season record is 8-8, but that is almost a floor prediction now. As for the ceiling…11 wins isn’t out of the question.

Arif Hasan

Arif Hasan

OVER 6.5 Wins – I think that 6.5 is a little low. Aside from simple regression to the mean, Adrian Peterson likely adds more than a win over the combination of Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata last year, and a second-year quarterback should do the same over the three-headed monster they played last year. The consensus seems to be that the Vikings will improve on defense, and to me that feels much closer to a 9-win season than it does a 6- or 7-win season.

Adam Carlson

Adam Carlson

OVER 6.5 Wins – There’s a lot to be excited about the Minnesota Vikings this year. A more confident Teddy Bridgewater being paired with Adrian Peterson to complement a defense on the rise should have the rest of the league on notice. This is a team threatening to make some noise in the NFL, and a playoff birth isn’t completely out of the question this year.

Eric Thompson

Eric Thompson

OVER 6.5 Wins – Everything we’re hearing and seeing from the Vikings this preseason suggests three words: POUND. THE. OVER. The Vikes seem poised to improve upon their 7-9 record and are the favorites of many national pundits to be the “sleeper” team of 2015. It makes sense too–after all, Adrian Peterson is back, distraction-free. Teddy Bridgewater looks ready to improve upon a promising rookie season. Mike Zimmer has another year to mold his young defense with some promising new draft picks. The defensive line is stacked. Mike Wallace, Charles Johnson, and Jarius Wright highlight a suddenly deep wide receiving corps, especially if Cordarrelle Patterson bounces back or rookie Stefon Diggs continues to impress. Getting seven or more wins should be a breeze, right? They did it last year with a much lesser team.

Maybe, but there are several important “ifs” still surrounding the Vikings that could drastically change the outcome of their season. The biggest “if”: if Matt Kalil and the offensive line have another poor year protecting the quarterback, it won’t matter how much Bridgewater has improved because he’ll be running for his life all season. Kalil has looked pretty poor in Training Camp and that has a lot of fans worried. If other players in the secondary outside of Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith can’t step up, teams will still be able to pass on them. If the injury bug hits key defensive players like Anthony Barr and Sharrif Floyd again (Barr has already been hampered in camp), the Vikings may not have the depth to cover for them.

So while there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic in Minnesota this year, you should probably throw the word “cautious” in front of any good feelings until the Vikings actually start stringing together some wins. My prediction: a 9-7 finish. Just outside of the playoffs but putting the league on notice that the Vikings will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.

Brad Henke

Bradley Henke

OVER 6.5 Wins – I’m going to start by saying that I am a realist, some would say pessimist. But, I’ll also say that I’m more optimistic about the Vikings this year than I’ve ever been in a pre-season.

Here is why I’m optimistic.
1. Coach Zimmer. I love this guy, he’s no-nonsense and has the respect of the players, fans, and media. He turned what was an abysmal defense into just above league average in one year. He’s helped Xavier Rhodes develop, and I believe Rhodes will be in the top 5-10 cornerbacks in the league after this year. The players have all seemed to buy in to what Zimmer’s selling, and he squeezed 7 wins out of a train wreck of a year last year, as we lost our best player, and one of the best players in the game after week one.

2. Our recent drafts. The head coach and GM (Rick Spielman) are actually speaking the same language, and have killed it the prior two drafts. Getting Barr and Bridgewater in the same draft was a stroke of luck/genius. They also shored up what were massive weak spots at the cornerback and linebacker positions in quick order. Also, Harrison Smith is turning into one of the best safeties in the league.

3. Teddy Bridgewater. This kid performs under pressure, and is handling himself like a franchise QB. I’d put him in the top 15-20 in the league right now, and I think he’ll be top 10 by 2016. He had one of the best rookie performances ever by a QB when he was rushed in earlier than planned and, although he went through some early struggles, finished the year stronger than almost anyone expected.

4. Adrian Peterson’s back. Make no mistake, although he’s 30 years old, Peterson is a top running back. Barring injury, he’ll be one of the best in the league again this year. You add him to last year’s team, and you’d have been looking at a 9-7 team (or better) instead of 7-9. No disrespect to Asiata, who filled in admirably, but he’s no AD.

So, to quit rambling and give you an answer, I’m going to say the Vikings will win 10 this year. I’m guessing 10-6 and a wild card spot, and we may be playing for the division in Lambeau when week 17 rolls around.

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