Good morning, Vikings fans. Guess what day it is? Did you get any sleep last night? You couldn’t? You were just far too excited about the start of the regular season? The thought of the Vikings going all the way and winning it all just consumed you?
Well, we’re right there with you this morning; the excitement is thick here at Vikings Territory. Before the season gets kicked off shortly here against the St. Louis Rams, we wanted to hit you with another VT Talkers (Episode 3) where we go game-by-game and make our predictions for the season. Arif, Adam and myself will give you our win/loss prediction for each match-up which will be used to create a VT Consensus Prediction for each game.
Do you have your purple sunglasses on? Sipping on that purple Kool-Aid for breakfast? Let’s do this.
Week 1 | @ St. Louis Rams | Sunday, September 7th
Brett: WIN – While I’m not ready to anoint this defense, I think it’s improved enough to cause some problems for veteran journeyman Shaun Hill. Expect Adrian Peterson to exploit a defensive line that will over pursue in an attempt to put pressure on Cassel and then destroy a weak Rams second level.
Adam: WIN – A tough defense will test our offense, but Mike Zimmer’s defense will begin the transition to greatness starting in Week One.
Arif: WIN – I initially marked this as a loss, but a suspect secondary and transitioning linebacker corps cannot be made up for by their defensive line. On offense, Zac Stacy is good but not great and Shaun Hill is throwing to a bunch of receivers who are all potential but no talent (Cook, Britt, Austin, Quick)
Consensus: WIN (1-0)
Week 2 | vs. New England Patriots | Sunday, September 14th
Brett: LOSS – Tight Ends always seem to go off against the Vikings… Even mediocre ones. A mediocre tight end, Gronk is not. While this may change under Zimmer’s oversight, I expect Rob Gronkowski to wreak havoc for our linebackers and secondary.
Adam: LOSS – We will surprise some teams this year, but I don’t think “surprised” is something you apply often to the Patriots.
Arif: LOSS – As much as I think the decline of Tom Brady is understated and that New England in general is overrated, I still think the Vikings lose this one, on the strength of Rob Gronkowski, Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and so on. They have great defensive pieces and a strong running game that will be difficult to overcome.
Consensus: LOSS (1-1)
Week 3 | @ New Orleans Saints | Sunday, September 21st
Brett: LOSS – Another big name tight end. Great. Drew Brees & Co. will likely be too much to handle for this young, revamped defense. I believe it will be closer than most think, though.
Adam: LOSS – I still think our linebackers will struggle against tight ends, especially the best one in the NFL.
Arif: LOSS – New Orleans is one of the only teams with a top-tier defense and top-tier offense and the Vikings aren’t there yet. Big turnaround for what New Orleans used to be.
Consensus: LOSS (1-2)
Week 4 | vs. Atlanta Falcons | Sunday, September 28th
Brett: WIN – The Vikings defense coupled with a rather weak running back group will make the Falcons one dimensional and force them to throw the ball. Despite having Julio Jones and Roddy White back, at home I think our offense will be able to compete and will come out on top in a close one.
Adam: WIN – After two tough weeks, the Vikings will be hungry for another victory against a team with plenty of deficiencies.
Arif: LOSS – This isn’t the same Falcons team that was 4-12 a year ago; they’re closer to the 10+ win teams of the previous three years. Fully healthy, Vikings won’t be able to overcome their passing game despite a mediocre OL and running game. On defense, their front seven is almost entirely new and good enough to keep Atlanta ahead.
Consensus: WIN (2-2)
Week 5 | @ Green Bay Packers | Thursday, October 2nd
Brett: LOSS – The Packers are not as bad as they looked against a very tough Seattle Seahawks team. While the Vikings will make it close, I don’t like our chances in Lambeau.
Adam: WIN – The Packers are a hurting unit that looks to be in decline.
Arif: LOSS – The Packers we saw on Thursday are not the Packers we’ll see throughout the season. Even though their defense remains overrated for the fourth consecutive year, it will be good enough, even against Peterson, to allow a potent offense to kill the Vikings through the air.
Consensus: LOSS (2-3)
Week 6 | vs. Detroit Lions | Sunday, October 12th
Brett: WIN – The Vikings have done a decent job of keeping Calvin Johnson under control. That was before Zimmer’s defense. Many believe Golden Tate is the missing #2 receiver the Lions have been searching for who changes everything. I don’t buy it. Vikings beat the Kitties at home.
Adam: WIN – This new defense will have answers for Megatron and company this year.
Arif: WIN – More a referendum on the Lions’ coaching staff than talent level, I don’t think their defense can keep up with their offense, as improved as both sides are on the ball. It’s still a team that’s dependent on not making mistakes, and I don’t know that they’re there.
Consensus: WIN (3-3)
Week 7 | @ Buffalo Bills | Sunday, October 19th
Brett: WIN – E.J. Manuel has looked worse this preseason and I’m not sure he’s the answer for the Bills at Quarterback (I have a feeling they’ll be in the hunt for a new one after this season.) Vikings put a whoopin’ on the Bills – I don’t think it will be that close.
Adam: WIN – Sammy Watkins won’t be enough to drag the Bills out of the basement.
Arif: WIN – The Bill’s massively underrated defense will take a step back with a loss of Pettine, and Manuel’s mediocrity will be emphasized by how terrible their offensive coordinator is.
Consensus: WIN (4-3)
Week 8 | @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers| Sunday, October 26th
Brett: WIN – Vikings get a shot against Lovie Smith and Leslie Frazier’s defense – two guys they have a lot of familiarity with. While I love the Bucs receiving core, I don’t have much faith in who’s getting them the ball.
Adam: WIN – I see you, Leslie. The Vikings will be eager to show their old coach what it is they are actually capable of.
Arif: LOSS – I’m not a believer in Josh McCown or Mike Glennon. (Or I guess Mike Kafka who is technically on the team.) But a big WR corps and an OL that’s fine on the edge and bolstered by Mankins is “good enough” for this year. The defense will be guided by Lovie Smith and features McCoy, Goldson, David, Verner, and Michael Johnson. It will be close enough for home advantage to swing it.
Consensus: WIN (5-3)
Week 9 | vs. Washington Redskins | Sunday, November 2nd
Brett: WIN – The last time the Vikings met the Redskins they were daggered by an incredible 76-yard Robert Griffin III scamper. This time, I’m not sure RGIII will be around whether it be due to injury or getting benched in favor of Kirk Cousins. Maybe he’ll get things turned around, but he has looked just awful this preseason.
Adam: WIN – A defense that can actually answer to a mobile quarterback? I’m excited about that!
Arif: WIN – Washington has improved their secondary in some marginal way and their receiving corps in a big way, but I neither trust the whole construction of the defense nor Jay Gruden in general. While I can believe that Robert Griffin will bounce back from his ACL season, there are issues throughout the team the Vikings can exploit.
Consensus: WIN (6-3)
Week 10 | Bye Week (6-3)
Week 11 | @ Chicago Bears | Sunday, November 16th
Brett: LOSS – Soldier Field.
Adam: LOSS – The Vikings big winning streak ends at Soldier field where the Bears establish themselves as our top competition in the North.
Arif: LOSS – I like the Vikings-Bears matchup, for reasons I’ll detail below in the second meeting, but for now I’ll believe that their high-powered offense will combine with a regression-improved defense to hang on against the Vikings at home
Consensus: LOSS (6-4)
Week 12 | vs. Green Bay Packers | Sunday, November 23rd
Brett: WIN – Close divisional game with the advantage going to the home team.
Adam: WIN – The Packers continue their downward trend and allow the Vikings to usher them out of the playoff picture.
Arif: LOSS – The Packers will be more injured at this point in the season than before, but if Rodgers is healthy, they always have a chance. This is better than the 2012 team the Vikings were able to split the series with, and the Vikings probably can’t count on a 2000-yard Peterson to overcome the differences, even with an improved quarterback.
Consensus: WIN (7-4)
Week 13 | vs. Carolina Panthers | Sunday, November 30th
Brett: LOSS – Carolina boasts a tough defense that very well may own the best linebacker in the NFL in Luke Kuechly. Their offense may be one of the weakest in the NFL this season though with a very real shortage at wide receiver. The Vikings have always struggled with mobile quarterbacks. I think the Panthers come out on top in a low-scoring, defensive fight.
Adam: WIN – That offense will be abysmal and the defense can only do so much against someone like Adrian Peterson.
Arif: LOSS – Cam won’t be injured and the defense is still extremely good. Aside from a strong front seven, Cam can handle a bad offensive line better than most quarterbacks. The receiving corps isn’t as bad as advertised, anyway.
Consensus: LOSS (7-5)
Week 14 | vs. New York Jets | Sunday, December 7th
Brett: WIN – Another tough defense and mobile quarterback but don’t see the Vikings losing this one. This is the year Rex Ryan loses his job. The Jets are as mediocre as it gets.
Adam: WIN – The Jets are only a few mid-season injuries away from being the worst team in the NFL.
Arif: WIN – Not a huge fan of the receiving corps, the offensive line or Geno Smith. Stifling defense aside (and really just a DL), I feel like the Jets are not built to recover from mistakes because of their low-scoring potential, and I think they can be subject to those mistakes pretty easily.
Consensus: WIN (8-5)
Week 15 | @ Detroit Lions | Sunday, December 14th
Brett: LOSS – I’ll give this one to the Lions because I feel like throwing them some scraps down there in the cellar of the NFC North.
Adam: LOSS – The Lions at home will be a dangerous team.
Arif: WIN – Though I think that the Lions coaching staff will probably be a bit better this time around, and at home is good for them, but I can’t imagine all of their problems will be solved this season. The defensive line isn’t what it once was, despite how fearsome it is, and the secondary can’t cover for it.
Consensus: LOSS (8-6)
Week 16 | @ Miami Dolphins | Sunday, December 21st
Brett: WIN – The Vikings defensive line will feast on a Dolphins offensive line featuring five guys who have never played together before. With no running backs that can keep the Vikings defense honest, I believe Tannehill will have a rough day and find himself looking at that blue, beautiful Miami sky frequently.
Adam: WIN – The Dolphins have some things going for them this year, but the Vikings momentum will build towards a victory here.
Arif: LOSS – There’s always a surprise loss on the schedule, and away against a surprising quarterback who doesn’t get his due and a defense that still features a strong pass rush and a good secondary seems like that surprise loss.
Consensus: WIN (9-6)
Week 17 | vs. Chicago Bears | Sunday, December 28th
Brett: LOSS – If Jay Cutler can stay healthy this year, I think the Bears find themselves atop the NFC North. Despite losing at home in the final game of the year, the Vikings may have a good enough record to make their way into the postseason with a wildcard spot.
Adam: WIN – Sealing up the division in Week Seventeen? How’s that for optimism?
Arif: WIN – Is it too much to believe in the Bears twice? I think so. Mel Tucker is as bad a coordinator as Trestman is good and figures to balance him out. The defense’s good players are old and their young players are bad—except Kyle Fuller, who isn’t starting.
Consensus: WIN (10-6)
There you have it, folks! How’s that for optimism?
It’s difficult to predict how the Vikings will do this year. While they definitely have the talent to be a playoff contending, 10-win team, would anyone be surprised if, let’s say, they only won 6 or 7? Teams aren’t built overnight and, while expectations seem to be at a all-time high, we should remember that there may be some bumps along the way.
Aw, hell. What am I talking about? We’re going all the way this year!
Happy Regular Season 2014!
(Place your prediction for the Vikings 2014 Regular Season record below. At the end of the year, we can come back and see who was closer – our amazing readers or us hack bloggers.)