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Expert Labels Vikings as a Work in Progress

Another day, and yet another doubter of the 2021 Minnesota Vikings. As of late, the squad has faced some scorching hot criticism. Whether it be from fans or the national media, the bashing continues. 

Since the Championship Game appearance during the 2017 season, the Vikings have been a source of ridicule. Often with Kirk Cousins’ contract being the butt of the joke. Expecting one man himself to lead a team with zero Super Bowl wins to the promised land. Pretending as if 2017 was nothing more than lighting in a bottle topped with the collapse of one of the most dominant defenses to step foot in the twenty-first century. 

But once again, the expected mediocrity in 2022 will be faulted to that one man once more. And the white-hot criticism will partake repeatedly. 

Oddsmakers Place Their Bets

As we are all aware, the inaugural seventeen-game season is upon us here in 2021. Per Vegas, the Vikings are expected to finish with 8.5 wins. 

Green Bay was third on their list, notching an expected total of 11 wins. 

8.5 wins sure are fitting. Pundits and fans are often slap Kirk Cousins as Mr. 500 or the 9-7 man himself. As if he is only the player on the team responsible for wins. 

Interestingly enough, Cousins has yet to notch a season of 8-8 and finished only one season 9-7. However, Mr. 500 may be accurate. Heading into 2021, Kirk has a 51-51-2 record, correlated with an exact .500 record. 

Those who slap the 9-7 cliche on the Vikings themselves, keep in mind they have yet to finish with nine wins since 2005. 

Given the Vikings totaled seven wins in 2020 with an unprecedented amount of injuries, it’s hard to imagine they only win one and a half games more in 2021, despite one extra game on the schedule. 

NFL Expert Takes His Stance

Some fans continue to remain optimistic, barring the front office failing to address the offensive line come the time of the draft. 

However, NFL.com’s Mark Sessler sided with Vegas and other critics on this one. 

Sessler recently broke down the entire NFC, not just the Vikings, but his comments towards the Vikings are certainly noteworthy. First and foremost, Sessler placed Minnesota in the work in progress bin. A tier that consists of the Bears, Eagles, Giants, Lions, Panthers, and Falcons.

For that matter, the Bears, Lions, and Vikings are all expected to have similar 2021’s. 

A finding that seems highly implausible, given that the Lions are on course for a massive rebuild. 

Sessler also questioned the team as a whole. Stating how this is always a good, not great team. It sounds like something I tell my buddy after he hits a golf shot.

He even asked, What do you want to be? Are they closer to rebuilding mode than competitor mode?

He would later go onto say: Perhaps I’m unfair to Mike Zimmer’s Vikings. Last year’s 7-9 outing was marked by transition on defense. I see a team that crumbled against the Bucs, Bears, and Saints down the stretch and ask: How have they improved? A quiet foray into free agency brought cornerback Patrick Peterson but also the departure of productive safety Anthony Harris. I like the Viking’s situation better than Chicago’s, though, after the Bears whiffed on Wilson to wind up with Andy Dalton at quarterback.

Here, Sessler does clarify his tier placement. While the Vikings may be in the same boat as the Bears, in the end, he does envision the Vikings to be better off than their counterparts.

How have they improved?

Perhaps, a lack of ignorance on Sessler’s part. To ask such a question would be a complete disregard to the injuries that derailed 2020 and offseason moves the Vikings have made.

For example, the simple addition of Danielle Hunter, Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr, and Michael Pierce will do wonders to one of the worst defensive units in 2020. 

In terms of offseason moves, the Vikings have brought in Dalvin Tomlinson, Xavier Woods, Mackenzie Alexander, and Patrick Peterson. Tomlinson over Shamar Stephen is a massive improvement itself. Peterson and Alexander are also significant upgrades in the CB room.

As for the safety position, Sessler points to the departure of Harris as an area of concern but dismisses the fact that Xavier Woods was brought in to replace Harris. And has zero regard for the fact that he will be playing alongside Harrison Smith. Who has made even Andrew Sendejo look elite at times. 

Unless Sessler is pessimistic due to the turnstiles that stand in front of Kirk Cousins, Sessler stands corrected. The Vikings still have a first-round pick and nine other draft picks to find upgrades over the traffic cones they currently deploy. 

Add in the fact that it is an odd year, and fans are expected to return to the Bank once again. Cousins and Co may be out to silence the doubters in 2021.

If not, then Sessler’s and Vegas’s prediction may prevail in the end. An 8.5 win total or less may result in colossal changes from the GM down to the kicker.

Akansh Gupta

Student at ISU Economics | Pre-Med Follow me on twitter or feel free to reach out!

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cka2nd
cka2nd
18 days ago

The defense is massively improved at NT/DT (Pierce over Stephen, Tomlinson over J. Johnson) and, hopefully, at CB (Peterson and Alexander over Holton Hill and Chris Jones). It’s also hopefully somewhat improved at LB (Barr over Wilson, but Davis over Vigil, IMO). However, it has taken a small hit at DE (Odenigbo over Weatherly) and a perhaps small, perhaps large hit at FS (Harris over Woods every year of Woods’ career, including last year, which was a down one for both of them, and Woods has never approached Harris’ level of play of 2018 and 2019).

There’s a good chance this is a top 10 defense, but the pass rush is still a big question, and Harris and Odenigbo could make us really regret losing them.

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