A lot is going to change between now and the beginning of the 2018 season, so in some sense predictions about the playoffs are inherently ridiculous. That said, the point of this piece isn’t to make specific analytical points about the team and season to come. Rather, I’m looking at some broader trends that should make for good omens for the Vikings next January (and hopefully February).
Still In The Mix
First and most obviously, let’s just say that any reasonable football fan would have the Vikings still in the mix for next year’s title. While this past season’s playoff run ended in disastrous fashion against Philadelphia, there were a few moments there when Minnesota looked destined for the Super Bowl. Accordingly, early power rankings for next season are giving the Vikings quite a bit of respect – though not making them a definitive favorite, which is actually for the best, per my next point….
Odds Won’t Be Oppressive
Trying to win in sports as a heavy favorite is never easy. Look at recent Super Bowl winners, in fact, and you’ll notice that only the Patriots in Super Bowl 49 were such strong favorites as to be a bad bet (meaning you had to bet $10 just to win $9 on a win). More often than not, and with every winner since Super Bowl 49, the winner doesn’t have a crystal clear advantage in the odds. Thus, it’s probably a good thing that we aren’t looking at the Vikings as the heir apparent in 2018 – just one of a few strong teams in the mix.
The Offense Gets A Boost
For a team looking to build on a successful playoff run, the Vikings actually have some fairly big question marks. One thing that they don’t have to worry about however is the running back position – which is one area that could have used a boost. No matter what else happens with the offense, Dalvin Cook is expected back, and that’s a built-in boost for an offense that, for the most part, did pretty well without him.
Assets Will Come In
The question of what the Vikings will do at quarterback might be one of the most intriguing storylines of the NFL offseason. As one write-up put it, Sam Bradford has the talent, Case Keenum has the health, and Teddy Bridgewater has the youth, putting the front office in something of a bind. At this point it’s anyone’s guess which of these three will be under center to start the season. What seems to be a virtual certainty though is that nothing is certain. That means we can expect the Vikings to rope in at least one significant offseason asset simply by dealing from a position of strength.
The Vikings Got Over The Hump
This is a debatable assertion, but one that actually makes sense in a way. Famous sportswriter Bill Simmons has actually put forth the theory as a Boston sports fan who went through years of losing. Simmons has essentially talked about how certain moments in Boston sports showed the teams that they had reason to believe – that, indeed, they were capable of winning big games. The conference championship may have been disappointing, but the way Minnesota got there, with the Stefon Diggs “Minneapolis Miracle” catch, might just be one of those moments. With a taste of this kind of moment, the Vikings could finally be on the cusp of more.
At least I know who I’ll be betting on.