It’s late June, when all Super Bowl titles are won.
Scratch that, we’re about as far from the Super Bowl as possible.
Late June is the time when NFL folks start to try to determine the contenders and pretenders — which includes determining which teams might be in a position to surprise.
The Vikings appear to be a trendy “surprise” pick to go from 7-9 a season ago to a winning record and possibly a playoff berth this season. The latest to give the Vikings praise? ESPN’s John Clayton. The reasons he cites — Teddy Bridgewater, Adrian Peterson and a strong defense — are all solid ones.
It’s not a stretch to expect a healthy Peterson to add 30 yards a game to the Vikings running offense, which would be worth around two or three points per game. That type of improvement should make the Vikings a playoff team. Since 2003, teams that have made the playoffs averaged 25.2 points a game. Any offense that can put up between 23.5-25 points per game is playoff worthy. If coach Mike Zimmer can continue to work his magic with the defense — the Vikings went from 32nd in points allowed in 2013 to 11th last season — Minnesota could jump from 7-9 to 9-7 or maybe 10-6.
While it’s prudent to be cautious before a single game has been played, I agree that 10-6 isn’t all that far-fetched. To me, it all hinges on the offensive line. If that unit protects Bridgewater, the offense will be fine. If not, progress will stall.