As predictable as 2020 itself
Considering that in the year 2020 it’s difficult to predict what head-spinning occurrence will jump up and bite us before the day is through, it seems unreasonably cruel to ask people to predict what will happen in football games this month, next month, the month after that and the month after that. But let’s do that anyway. Your 2020 Vikings season predictions:
The Vikings will go 10-6 and lose their first playoff game. They are the definition of good-not great, with a good-not-great quarterback, and a roster filled with quality players and unproven youngsters. The Vikings are trying to rebuild and win at the same time, and they should do pretty well in that regard, but they’re not built to be a powerhouse, not this year at least.
Mike Zimmer’s defense has undergone a substantial personnel shuffle, particularly in the secondary, which creates unknowns that are enhanced by a lack of offseason and preseason. The young cornerbacks showed flashes in training camp, but they will face a gantlet of elite quarterbacks. The same offensive line concerns remain. That position group needs to be better. Returning star talent on both sides of the ball make a playoff berth and division title realistic goals. Predicting 9-7.
All the geniuses are saying the Vikings defense will be worse with young corners, but last year they gave up 5,465 total yards, ranking 14th in the league. The defense will be better than last season and the offense will be just as good with another year of Dalvin Cook and the run game making Kirk Cousins’ play-action the best in the NFL. I’ve got them going 11-5.
The Vikings spent much of the offseason talking about “getting over the hump” after a trip to the NFC divisional playoffs, and they went through their biggest set of defensive changes since Mike Zimmer became head coach. A third wild-card spot could help the Vikings reach the playoffs in back-to-back years for the first time since 2008-09, but taking a step beyond last year’s 10-6 record will depend on how a group of young corners handles one of the league’s toughest slates of opposing QBs. Call it 10-6 again, and a first-round playoff exit.
The young corners will play to a level beyond their experience but will experience some normal bumps early on. Rookie receiver Justin Jefferson will make an immediate impact. The offensive line will continue to be a slow work in progress but will scrap well enough for the Vikings to scratch out nine wins and earn the seventh seed in the NFC playoffs.
The Vikings will stumble out of the gate, but the defense will find its footing by midseason, when pass rushers Danielle Hunter and Yannick Ngakoue will play key roles in attaining a 9-6-1 record and a fourth playoff appearance under coach Mike Zimmer. Is the offense fortified enough to achieve more?
Defense will keep the Vikings in a lot of games, but a subpar offensive line and the departure of Stefon Diggs will be significant offensive obstacles. In a season with a vastly diminished home-field advantage, it will all add up to success half the time — an 8-8 season — which ultimately will be a disappointment.