Like every NFL prediction on Earth, these 60 words ain’t worth squat. This bum is on record picking the Vikings to win the NFC North as the fourth seed. They’ll defeat Seattle (oh, what they heck, let’s make it a 27-yard field goal at the gun) before losing at New Orleans. (Full disclosure: Last year’s Super Bowl pick … Jags over Falcons!)
If the Vikings improve in 2019, it will mean they solved two of their biggest issues — winning division road games and beating good teams in prime time — from 2018. Their final four road games are all against 2018 playoff teams, and three of those games are scheduled to be at night. But if the offense provides a better complement to the defense than it did in 2018, the Vikings should return to the playoffs.
The Vikings will find a way to keep quarterback Kirk Cousin moving more, with designed bootlegs, so that he doesn’t get sacked 40 times again. They’ll do a better job with play-action, and that will help receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. The defense is solid; a better offense means a playoff berth.
It won’t be pretty, but a fast start in September will help carry the Vikings through four road trips against 2018 playoff teams in November and December. Three December home games against NFC North foes will be the deciding factor. A healthy Dalvin Cook will eclipse 100 yards against each opponent as the Vikings eke out a third division title in Mike Zimmer’s sixth season.
The Vikings defense is star-filled and dynamic, the offense is loaded at the skill positions, Kirk Cousins is their best QB since Favre I (not II), they will win the NFC North and a wild-card game, then get turned into ground round by Seattle’s defense in the divisional round, and Zygi will get mad and fire both Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer.
A sense of urgency exists inside the organization, even if nobody is shouting “Super Bowl or bust.” Another flop could result in sweeping changes. Mike Zimmer’s defense should remain among the NFL’s elite, and the combination of Gary Kubiak’s expertise and a healthy Dalvin Cook will make the offense more credible, though concerns about the line remain. This feels like a return to the playoffs.
If Dalvin Cook is healthy all season and the offensive line holds up, this could be another double-digit victory total and playoff berth, meaning another chance for Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman to draft new kickers and punters next spring. But Cook and the offensive line have a history of not staying healthy. The Vikings will barely make the playoffs and lose in the first round.