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That’s a tall order for any team, much less one with a new coach, a new system and a young roster.
Oh, and a secondary that still looks remarkably thin in depth and talent.
Trouble spot: The Vikings finished 31st in pass defense last season, allowing 287.2 yards per game, and their secondary remains the No. 1 area of concern. That’s problematic considering the quality of quarterbacks on the docket.
Smith and Munnerlyn are the only guys that we’d classify as “sure things.” Xavier Rhodes showed promise as a rookie, but he started only six games and battled injuries, so he’s still relatively unproven.
After that, who knows?
Zimmer still hasn’t named the starting safety opposite Smith. Their third cornerback, Josh Robinson, missed significant time in camp because of a hamstring injury and hardly distinguished himself as reliable the past two seasons.
And that’s just the starters. It won’t take many injuries to move the needle to panic mode.
Tough division: The NFC West remains the league’s best division overall, but the NFC North ranks as high as any in terms of offense.
The Packers, Bears and Lions all finished in the top eight in total offense last season. Those three teams averaged at least 24 points per game. Can the Vikings keep pace?
Combine all those things, the optimism and the concerns, and we’ll predict a .500 season. Bet at your own risk though.
Chip Scoggins • email@example.com
|NY Yankees - WP: N. Eovaldi||4||FINAL|
|Boston - LP: W. Miley||2|
|Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi||3||FINAL|
|Minnesota - WP: R. Nolasco||5|
|Pittsburgh - LP: J. Hughes||1||FINAL|
|St. Louis - WP: C. Villanueva||2|
|Milwaukee - WP: M. Fiers||6||FINAL|
|Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Arrieta||1|
|LA Angels - LP: H. Santiago||4||FINAL|
|San Francisco - WP: T. Hudson||5|
|Philadelphia - LP: C. Hamels||0||FINAL|
|Miami - WP: D. Haren||7|
|Toronto - WP: A. Sanchez||11||FINAL|
|Cleveland - LP: C. Kluber||4|
|Tampa Bay - LP: C. Archer||0||FINAL|
|Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez||4|
|Cincinnati - WP: J. Marquis||8||FINAL|
|Atlanta - LP: E. Stults||4|
|Washington - WP: G. Gonzalez||1||FINAL|
|NY Mets - LP: J. Niese||0|
|Detroit - WP: D. Price||2||FINAL|
|Kansas City - LP: E. Volquez||1|
|Seattle - LP: T. Walker||4||FINAL|
|Houston - WP: C. McHugh||11|
|Oakland - LP: R. Cook||7||FINAL|
|Texas - WP: K. Kela||8|
|Colorado - LP: J. De La Rosa||2||FINAL|
|San Diego - WP: B. Morrow||4|
|Arizona - LP: E. Marshall||4||FINAL|
|Los Angeles - WP: J. Nicasio||6|
|Red Bull New York||1||FINAL|