Wednesday, June 29, 2016

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Last year’s version of Minnesota’s defensive line featured a heavy rotation, as expected under the watchful eye of Mike Zimmer, and a starting lineup with mostly new faces.

Outside of left end Brian Robison, the 2014 defensive line featured new starters across the board, including Everson Griffen replacing the ultra-popular Jared Allen as the primary pass rusher. Veteran run-stuffer Linval Joseph was a free agent acquisition while Sharrif Floyd was elevated to starting duties.

Now, with one full year under their belt, each of the starters has returned and they have high expectations for themselves.

Master Tesfatsion of the Star Tribune recently caught up with Floyd and confirmed that they are aiming for big things this year.

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Coach Zimmer guarantees you'll have fun!

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Daily Fantasy Sports are blowing up, and NFL teams are jumping on the opportunity to join the exploding, $1 billion-plus industry. DraftKings, an ever-popular destination for fans in need of a weekly fantasy football fix, recently announced a partnership with 12 organizations, including our very own Minnesota Vikings.

Enter the Week 1 Vikings Territory Contest Now!

The partnership, announced in conjunction with the DraftKings $10 Million Guaranteed Millionaire Maker Fantasy Football Contest, will bring fans closer to their favorite teams through a number of different fantasy football offerings. Each week, users around North America can play single-day online games for cash and prizes against their friends for a small fee. According to the team’s official website, the opportunities are endless as DraftKings expands its partnerships:

“Offering the best user experience is always our number one goal at DraftKings and partnering with 12 football teams of this caliber ensures that we will have the best games and offerings for the DraftKings community,” said DraftKings CEO Jason Robins.

“The sky is the limit for our partner teams and their fans this NFL season, as we host the largest contest in daily fantasy sports (DFS) history in Week One, join forces with ESPN to seamlessly bridge daily and season-long fantasy football, collaborate with FOX Sports on unique TV integrations and open in-stadium lounges at three outstanding facilities.”

In addition to the new features listed above, the company will also offer “exclusive fantasy games and money-can’t buy experiences to fans in these markets” as well as “premium in-stadium branding and online extensions on each teams’ digital platform.”

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NFC North by Matt Engstrom
NFC North by Matt Engstrom

Week One in the NFL always seems to be filled with enormous surprises and unusual box scores. After months and months of analyzing teams on paper, that funny shaped ball and the human factors collide for predictably unpredictable outcomes… especially at the start of the season.

With all of that being said, I want to feel out our readership and see how you think the NFC North teams will fare this weekend. The VT staff will have their Vikings-Niners predictions in just before kickoff on Monday night, but at this time we want to defer to you through three simple poles.

Tell us how you think things will shake out in Week One!

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photo courtesy of vikings.com

The Vikings will kick off the 2015 regular season in San Francisco, facing the 49ers for Monday Night Football. With Adrian Peterson returning to the field after missing almost all of last season and Teddy Bridgewater heading into his full second year at the helm, the Vikings have several things to feel optimistic about.

Almost all teams experience face lifts during the offseason, but the 49ers in particular underwent extreme adjustments. In addition to gaining a new head coach in Jim Tomsula after Jim Harbaugh left for Michigan, San Francisco lost several players to retirement, off-field issues and free agency.

Let’s take a look at the Week 1 matchup:

Offensive Line

All right, let’s start with what is safe to assume will be the Vikings’ biggest concern: the offensive line. Most fans are still reeling from last year’s OL woes, and it appeared early this offseason that 2015 would offer better protection for Bridgewater and company.

Now, heading into Week 1, the Vikings are without starting tackle Phil Loadholt (Achilles) and starting center John Sullivan (back). The news of Sullivan having surgery came abruptly Thursday, after the team had reported for weeks that Sullivan simply suffered from back spasms.

In the absence of Loadholt and Sullivan, the Vikings will be relying on rookie T.J. Clemmings and veteran Joe Berger to fill in, respectively. However, there are a few silver linings: Clemmings has looked decent practicing in Loadholt’s stead, and there’s a lot of potential to grow into. Berger has been practicing with the first team for quite awhile now, and he is not exactly inexperienced. Also, the Vikings have Brandon Fusco back at the line after missing parts of the 2014 season.

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Image courtesy of vikings.com

If there are any major concerns with a Vikings team heading to San Francisco to open up the 2015 season on national TV, one of them has to be Blair Walsh.

Walsh, a rookie phenom who was booming kicks all over the place, has seemingly developed a bit of the yips and notably struggled during the preseason. What a great time to move the extra point kicks back, making a sure thing now a question mark.

The reason I bring up Walsh’s struggles is because it does have an impact on games. So does the entire special teams unit, although they are often overlooked when breaking down a team.

So what exactly are we getting from this group in 2015? Let’s take a look.

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