Adrian Peterson delivered a season for the ages in 2012, rushing for nearly 2,100 yards, lifting the Minnesota Vikings into the playoffs and winning the MVP award. No one doubts Peterson’s greatness, but repeating a season like that is going to be next to impossible. Therefore, the focus of TheSportsNotebook’s NFL analysis will be whether A.P.’s mates can help the team make it back to the postseason.
Christian Ponder completed a respectable 62 percent of his passes, but the passing game needs to get more going down the field if they’re going to open up the field for Peterson.
To that end, the Vikings signed Greg Jennings, formerly of the Green Bay Packers. Jennings was the top target in Green Bay not too long ago, but injuries have slowed him the past year-plus. He’s got to stay healthy, and then show his career hasn’t been the byproduct of playing with Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers.
Minnesota’s defensive line is as good as any in the game, with Brian Robison and Jared Allen pressuring from the edge, and Kevin Williams controlling the interior. The only thing to keep an eye on is that Williams now 33-years-old and Allen is 31. Furthermore, Allen was playing hurt the latter part of last season. I think it’s fair to open the season with the assumption that this front will be very good, but wear and tear is something to keep alert for.
The Viking defense overall dovetails well with the offensive strengths. Minnesota could be better at forcing incompletions, where they rank near the bottom of the league. But they do a very good job at keeping passes underneath, and rank strongly in limiting yards-per-pass. What it adds up to is an approach that forces the game into a yardstick-to-yardstick style, and that’s something the team with the best running back in the NFL will always welcome.
And in the end, there’s still Adrian Peterson, and a head coach in Leslie Frazier who seems to have a good handle on what he’s doing. That’s why I think Las Vegas’ Over/Under win prop on Minnesota is a little low. The expectations are set at 7. I think the Vikes will win at least that many and even if they don’t make the playoffs again, they’ll at least make it back to .500.