Chip Scoggins: Vikings look like an 8-8 team

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 2, 2014 - 9:21 PM
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The Vikings offense appears to have upgraded with the addition of offensive coordinator Norv Turner and from quarterback stability under Matt Cassel.

Photo: CARLOS GONZALEZ • cgonzalez@startribune.com,

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As an exercise, predicting an NFL team’s record is like trying to guess how many jelly beans are in the jar. In reality, we have no clue. We’re just tossing out numbers.

Predictions only serve to reveal a perception about a team, and for the Vikings, that’s quite a contrast between fans and national media. In short: Fans are believers, outsiders not so much.

One prominent Vegas online site set the Vikings victory total at 6.5, which is double what one national publication projected in terms of wins.

From my perspective, it’s difficult to envision the Vikings doing worse than their 2013 season, a nightmare that saw them shuffle quarterbacks like a deck of cards, play defense like matadors and fire their coach after a 5-10-1 finish.

How does a team go backward after that?

So what’s realistic for Year 1 of Mike Zimmer’s tenure? We’re not ready to anoint the Vikings a playoff team, but in the spirit of opening week, our crystal ball shows an 8-8 record.

That guesswork reflects an equal dose of optimism and concern. First, the positives …

Coaching: The combination of Zimmer’s defense and Norv Turner’s offense breeds trust and confidence. Those two know what they’re doing in terms of both devising creative schemes and using their personnel properly.

Zimmer’s handling of clock management and other in-game situations remains an unknown, but the preseason revealed a depth of creativity on both sides of the ball that felt refreshing.

Quarterback stability: Remember when Josh Freeman showed up unexpectedly and was allowed to throw 53 passes in a game after practicing only four days as the starter? That was a real hoot.

The Vikings actually have a plan at that position now, unlike last season when they handled their quarterback situation like a game of “Eenie, meenie, miney, moe.”

Matt Cassel might not rank among the Top 20 quarterbacks in the league, but stability is critical at that position. Rookie Teddy Bridgewater wins popularity votes and will take over at some point, but Zimmer and Turner won’t feel pressured to rush his timeline.

Cassel enters the season with a clear picture of expectations. If he does his job, he keeps the job.

Playmakers: The Vikings aren’t devoid of high-end individual talent. A Norv Turner offense that features Adrian Peterson, Cordarrelle Patterson, Kyle Rudolph and Greg Jennings should score plenty of points.

Harrison Smith looks like a future Pro Bowl safety. Everson Griffen is intriguing as an every-down defensive end in Zimmer’s system. Rookie linebacker Anthony Barr will make an immediate impact as a pass rusher.

Free-agent signings Captain Munnerlyn and Linval Joseph plug huge holes on defense.

On the other hand …

Tough start: The NFL schedule-makers handed the Vikings a Who’s Who of quarterbacks right off the bat. In order, they face Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford in Weeks 2-6.

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Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
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Atlanta 65 3rd Qtr
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Charlotte 61
Dallas 32 2nd Qtr 10:49
Detroit 32
Utah 33 2nd Qtr
Miami 16
Orlando 31 2nd Qtr 10:50
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Florida State 43
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George Mason 47
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High Point 47
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Illinois 44
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Jacksonville 34
Longwood 21 2nd Half
Miami-Ohio 31
Arkansas State 43 2nd Half 16:01
Miss State 34
Tennessee 34 2nd Half 17:10
NC State 42
NC A&T 32 2nd Half 16:02
Ohio State 58
Manhattan 25 2nd Half 16:47
Pittsburgh 32
Robert Morris 28 2nd Half
Toledo 40
Char Southern 30 2nd Half 15:35
Wofford 31
Kennesaw St 46 1st Half 0:33
Youngstown St 39
Barber-Scotia 20 2nd Half
NC Central 62
Detroit 26 1st Half 2:40
UCF 29
Liberty 17 1st Half 5:23
UNC-Wilmington 21
TX A&M-CC 2 1st Half 17:41
Denver 5
Ark-Pine Bluff 2 1st Half 19:16
Houston 0
UT Martin 3 1st Half 18:30
Illinois State 0
Milligan 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Abilene Christian 7:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago
USC Upstate 3 1st Half 17:35
Memphis 5
Alcorn State 7:00 PM
Murray State
Central Mich 7:00 PM
Northwestern
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Old Dominion 2
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Stephen F Austin 7
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Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
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Rice
Western Carolina 79 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 66
(21) Miss State 66 FINAL
Louisiana 51
(25) DePaul 109 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 84
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NC State 67
Elon 77 FINAL
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UCF 64
Richmond 77 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 67
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Seattle 64
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Chattanooga 54
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(13) Duke 63
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Auburn 50
Northern Colorado 12 2nd Half
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Youngstown St 32 2nd Half 17:00
Robert Morris 39
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Sacred Heart 56
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St Francis-NY 34
(1) South Carolina 47 2nd Half 12:59
Hampton 28
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Bethune-Cookman 25
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Houston Baptist 42
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UNLV 42
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Northern Ky 32
Alabama State 25 2nd Half
Georgia Tech 45
Morehead St 38 2nd Half
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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 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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