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Mid-day talker: Five reasons the Vikings will make the playoffs in 2014

Posted by: Michael Rand under Vikings Updated: March 5, 2014 - 12:40 PM

 

Most of Minnesota is locked in on the winter sports teams and their respective postseason pushes or the Twins and what 2014 might bring.

 

But for some reason, we've been thinking a lot about the Vikings lately -- specifically, how 2014 has the potential to be a lot like 2012. We were in ridiculously early on that 2012 bandwagon, writing on Jan. 6 of that year that the Vikings could win 10 games and sneak into the playoffs. It was one of the only things we've ever ended up being right about, so pay attention to this:

The Vikings are a legitimate threat to return to the postseason in 2014, and this is why:

1) They have building blocks in place. Offensively, they have weapons -- Adrian Peterson, Cordarrelle Patterson, Kyle Rudolph, Greg Jennings, etc. And their offensive line was top-10 in the NFL in both run blocking and pass blocking even during a rough 2013 season. QB play was obviously a disaster in both production and handling for much of 2013, but when they settled in and got competent play, they were basically a .500 team last season. The QB situation will not be as bad as it was last year. The Vikings will settle on a draft pick and a veteran. Between the two, QB play will be adequate and properly sorted out -- and that's a major upgrade from what it was in many games last year. Adrian Peterson won't replicate 2012. An NFL RB might never have that good of a season ever again. But QB play will make up for it.

2) Again, they weren't terrible last season. Their defense was terrible, QB play was largely terrible, and that led directly to 2 or 3 losses. They were actually above .500 (4-3-1) over the last half of the season. The season was a major disappointment because of the regression from 2012 to 2013, but it wasn't a bottoming out.

3) Why won't the D be terrible again? Two reasons. First, a new coach (and staff) with a defensive background will bring a schematic upgrade. Second, they have more than $30 million in cap space to play with, and we dare say 75-80 percent of what they spend should be on defense. Get a full year of Harrison Smith. Find one good to very good starter at each level of the defense (secondary, linebacker and D-line), supplement with depth through other free agents and the draft, and suddenly the D could go from the bottom to the middle, much as it did in 2012 before regressing last year.

4) The schedule. The 2012 Vikings got to play a soft schedule because of their 3-13 season in 2011. The 2014 schedule isn't quite as soft, but it's only the 21st-toughest in the NFL in terms of opponent winning percentage and only three NFC teams (none in the NFC North) have easier roads.

5) Special teams. Buried in a lost season during 2013 was another solid special teams effort. We can discuss the ramifications of allegations against special teams coach Mike Priefer in another forum. It is certainly nothing to be taken lightly. But if we're focused squarely on football here, Priefer's special teams units get results. It's why he still has a job, and it can help elevate an improving team.

Your thoughts, please, in the comments.

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New England 14 FINAL
Kansas City 41
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
NY Rangers 6
Toronto 0 FINAL
Detroit 3
Pittsburgh 1 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Nashville 0
Florida 4 FINAL
Dallas 5
Winnipeg 1 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Arizona 4 FINAL
Vancouver 2
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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