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NFL Team Preview: Vikings
NFL Team Preview: Vikings
By WagerWeb.com and Ecobika -> Free NFL PIcks
When the Minnesota Vikings open the season on Monday night, their roster will be drastically different from the one that began last season. Minnesota added a few big names in free agency, traded up to get four picks in the first two rounds of the draft and fired former coach Mike Tice and personnel director Fran Foley.
Now the question is, Will all the moves get the Vikings back to the playoffs? New Coach Brad Childress has installed the West Coast offense and a new defense, but he hasn’t been able to keep the team from some of the same issues it dealt with last year. The injury bug has already hit with free-agent safety Tank Williams and first-round pick Chad Greenway suffering season-ending injuries.
Off the field problems have surfaced again too. Top receiver Koren Robinson has been kicked off the team after he was arrested in mid-August and charged with felony fleeing, two counts of fourth-degree drunken driving and three other misdemeanor charges. A "Stage 3" member of the NFL's substance-abuse policy, Robinson could be facing a yearlong suspension. Safety Dwight Smith also has been ticketed for indecent conduct.
Key Additions: RB Chester Taylor, OL Steve Hutchinson, PK Ryan Longwell, LB Ben Leber, QBs Tarvaris Jackson (rookie) and Brooks Bollinger, WR Todd Pinkston, FB Tony Richardson.
Key Subtractions: RB Michael Bennett, DBs Brian Williams and Corey Chavous, QB Daunte Culpepper, OL Toniu Fonoti, WRs Kelly Campbell and Nate Burleson, LBs Sam Cowart and Keith Newman, DE Lance Johnstone.
Sportsbook Odds: The Vikings have a chance because they play in the weak NFC North. If they get on a roll, the division could be theirs for the taking. WagerWeb.com has Minnesota as +0 to win the NFC North, +,000 to win the NFC championship and +,000 to win Super Bowl XLI.
Player to Watch: With 38-year-old Brad Johnson now the starting quarterback, the Vikings will be depending on newly acquired RB Taylor to power the offense. Taylor had a few decent games as Jamal Lewis’ backup in Baltimore, but he has never started consistently in his five-year career. Taylor hasn’t been very impressive in the preseason, and Childress has some concerns with the Vikings’ ground attack heading into the season. “It's still a work in progress," Childress said of the run game. "I would say this: Chester made some pretty good 1- and 2-yard runs, because we weren't always covering people up in there."
Outlook: Like Chicago, Minnesota has the good fortune of playing in possibly the worst division in the NFL. The Vikes' lack of a go-to receiver and the unproven backfield will put a lot of pressure on an improving defense. The secondary and defensive line look strong, but there are questions at linebacker, especially after the injury to Greenway. Hutchinson is arguably the best lineman in the league and will have to have another Pro Bowl season to protect Johnson and open holes for Taylor. If Troy Williamson can make the leap to becoming a solid No. 1 receiver and the team can stay healthy and out of trouble, the Vikings have a chance to win 9 or 10 games and the division.
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