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Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota Vikings: 2018 Super Bowl Champions

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No fan base suffered a more heartbreaking loss than the Vikings’ final game of last season. They were a Blair Walsh 27-yard Field Goal away from moving on to the NFC Divisional Round with their first playoff win since 2009. Only 4 players remain from that 2009 roster, but they return much of a talented young nucleus from their 2015-16 roster. According to Pro Football Focus the Vikings only lost 5.17% of their snaps from last season, the lowest number in the league. Expectations will be high in the Twin Cities with the return of a young, improving roster that went 11-5 last year, and playing in a glorious new stadium.

QB

Teddy Bridgewater is one of the most promising young Quarterbacks in the league. He has incredible poise, which really shows itself in high-pressure situations. He doesn’t have the strongest arm in the league, and the offense doesn’t exactly work to his strengths. Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner has been in the NFL for 32 years, and hasn’t changed his philosophy much over the last 3 decades. His focus on a 7-step-drop, deep passing game doesn’t do Teddy any favors. Some of the questions surrounding Teddy’s deep passing capability may have been answered after his 49 yard strike to Charles Johnson against the Bengals in their first preseason game.

RB

Adrian Peterson is still Adrian Peterson. He’s an outstanding runner, but struggles at everything else required of an NFL Running Back (pass protection, route running, pass catching, etc.). That’s why third year RB Jerick McKinnon’s skill set is so valuable. He’s an average pass blocker, but is an excellent route runner and receiver out of the backfield. His versatility covers up all of Peterson’s weaknesses in the passing game, and provides a change of pace in the run game.

WR

This is probably the weakest position group on the team, which is why they spent their first round pick on Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell. Treadwell adds some size to this unit, has good ball skills, and even has a reputation as a good run blocker. Stefon Diggs will look to build upon his impressive rookie season in which he was able to rack up 720 yards on 52 receptions after being inactive for the first 3 games of the year. After a hot start to the season, his production dropped severely. In order for this unit to be successful in 2016: they need Laquon Treadwell to pick up the offense quickly, more consistent production from Diggs, and bigger contributions from Charles Johnson after a disappointing 2015 season.

OL

The Vikings attempted to make a weakness into a strength by adding many key contributors to the Offensive Line throughout the offseason. They picked up accomplished linemen Andre Smith and Alex Boone in Free Agency, they drafted OT Willie Beavers in the fourth round, and John Sullivan returns after missing all of 2015 with an injury. Phil Loadholt’s retirement after an Achilles injury was a major blow, but fortunately the Vikings built one of the league’s deepest Offensive Lines during the offseason. Left Tackle Matt Kalil is still a major question mark. He’s submitted 3 straight years of subpar play after an impressive rookie season. If Kalil is able to return to form, this could be a top 10 unit in the NFL.

DL

Linval Joseph and Shariff Floyd form an incredible Defensive Tackle duo on the interior of Mike Zimmer’s defense. Everson Griffen has compiled 22.5 sacks over the last 2 seasons. He is paired with Brian Robison and Danielle Hunter who split time at the other Defensive End spot. Danielle Hunter was really impressive in his rookie season, and Brian Robison is still a solid pass rusher entering his 10th NFL season. This unit excels in both defending the run and rushing the passer, which sets the tone for possibly the best defense in the NFL.

LB

Anthony Barr was outstanding in 2015 following up an impressive performance as a rookie in 2014. He excels defending the run, rushing the passer, and in pass coverage. He is joined by fellow UCLA alum Eric Kendricks at Linebacker, who showed flashes of brilliance as a rookie, but needs to improve his consistency in his second season. Barr and Kendricks will see a majority of the snaps at LB in Mike Zimmer’s nickel defense. Chad Greenway, Emmanuel Lamur, Audie Cole, and rookie Kentrell Brothers provide quality depth behind the two starters.

DB

The Vikings treated Harrison Smith to a well-deserved contract extension in the offseason. Smith is probably the most well rounded Safety in the league, and is the centerpiece of a talented Vikings secondary. Xavier Rhodes was a little disappointing in his 3rd season putting up poor performances in all of the first ten games. He did turn his season around in week 11, and re-staked his claim as an above-average #1 Corner. Outside of Denver, the Vikings have the deepest group of Cornerbacks in the league with Captain Munnerlyn, Terrance Newman, Trae Waynes, and rookie Mackensie Alexander.

Special Teams

Outside of Jeff Locke, one of the worst punters in the NFL, the Vikings Special Teams unit is very solid. Marcus Sherels averaged a substantial 9.1 yards per punt return in 2015, and has been a dependable punt returner throughout his career. Cordarrelle Patterson has been a Pro Bowl level kick returner and took 2 kicks back for a Touchdown during the regular season. Blair Walsh’s career has been an absolute roller coaster. He had pinpoint accuracy in his first 2 seasons making a combined 61 FG on 68 attempts. He went through a slump in 2014 (26/35 FG), but seemed to be on the rebound in 2015 (34/39 FG) until his 27-yard shank against the Seahawks cost the Vikings a trip to the Divisional Round. Will he be able to put that miss behind him and return to form in 2016? That question might not be answered until he lines up for another playoff Field Goal in January.

Coaching Staff

The 2 keys to winning in today’s NFL are coaching and Quarterback play. There is a debate to be had whether Teddy Bridgewater is a Super Bowl level Quarterback, but there is no debate that this is the most experienced coaching staff in the league. Mike Zimmer is only entering his 3rd season as a head coach, but he has been coaching in the NFL for the last 22 years. Defensive Coordinator George Edwards is entering season 19 in the NFL, as is Defensive Line coach Andre Patterson. Linebackers coach Adam Zimmer is entering season number 11, and Defensive Backs coach Jarry Gray is ready to begin his 21st season. On the offensive side of the ball: Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner 32 years, Wide Receivers coach George Stewart 10 years, Offensive Line coach Tony Sparano 18 years, Tight Ends coach Pat Shurmur 18 years, and Running Backs coach Kevin Stefanski 11 years. These well-seasoned coaches will have their team ready to go with a sound gameplan week in and week out.

I don’t expect the Vikings to repeat as NFC North Champions in 2016, but I do expect them to be playing on Wild Card weekend for the second year in a row. Mike Zimmer and his experienced coaching staff will have this team well prepared and hungry for a championship. Sorry Vikings fans, but I don’t believe that hunger will be satisfied with a Super Bowl in February of 2017. Give this team one more year of playoff experience, plus a home game for the 2018 Super Bowl, and that could add up to the Vikings hoisting the Lombardi Trophy for the first time in franchise history.

Shop for Minnesota Vikings gear at Fanatics.com

Andrew is an analyst at Pro Football Focus and has written about College Football for SB Nation

Minnesota Vikings

NFC: What’s At Stake on Championship Sunday?

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NFL Championship

In the National Football League, today is known as championship Sunday. Back in August 32 teams had hopes and dreams of playing in Super Bowl LII in Minnesota on February 4. In the NFC, 16 teams started. Four are all that remain. Minnesota and Philadelphia. Before the game starts, here’s how they got here.

Minnesota Vikings

In the first four weeks of the regular season, they went 2-2. Then, they went on a nine-game winning streak. To close out the regular season, the Vikings won their final three games. Overall, the Vikings finished the 2017 regular season with a 13-3. The won the NFC North division and got a bye in the playoffs.

During Wildcard weekend, the Vikings watched as the New Orleans Saints defeated the Carolina Panthers. Then in last weeks thrilling NFC Divisional game, the Saints traveled to Minnesota to face the Vikings. With 10 seconds left in the game, quarterback Case Keenum threw what is known as the Minnesota Maricle. Now, with one game away from not only hosting a Super Bowl but also playing in it, they must go through Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles. As for most recent seasons, this is the first time the Vikings are in the NFC Championship game since the 2009 season.

Philadelphia Eagles

In a tough NFC East division, it looked like Dallas was going to run away with the division title. But, it was the Eagles who stole that from them. Not only that but for being a 13-3 team, they earned a first-round bye and home-field advantage. Last week, the Philadelphia Eagles took on the Atlanta Falcons. Thanks to the Eagles defense, the Eagles have advanced to the 2017 NFC Championship game. This is the Eagles first championship game since the 2004 season.

My Thoughts

My thoughts on the game are that I would like to see Minnesota be in the same Super Bowl considering they are hosting. Eagles deserve it too, but not as much as the Vikings.

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Arizona Cardinals

2018 Opponents Set For Each NFL Team

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Now that the 2017 regular season in the books, it’s time to look forward to the 2018 season right?

Just like eating at some of the top restaurants in the nation, it’s good to know what’s on your plate next, regardless of how far away you are from your next dish.

Here is the rundown of the opponents for each NFL team in 2018:

AFC EAST

 

New England Patriots
Home: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings
Away: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans

Buffalo Bills
Home: Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Chargers, Tennessee Titans
Away: Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings

Miami Dolphins
Home: Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans
Away: Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings

New York Jets
Home: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings
Away: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans

AFC NORTH

 

Pittsburgh Steelers
Home: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, New England Patriots
Away: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Baltimore Ravens
Home: Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Away: Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Tennessee Titans

Cincinnati Bengals
Home: Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Away: Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers

Cleveland Browns
Home: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, New York Jets
Away: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

AFC SOUTH

 

Jacksonville Jaguars
Home: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins
Away: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants

Tennessee Titans
Home: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins
Away: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Chargers, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants

Indianapolis Colts
Home: Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants
Away: Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins

Houston Texans
Home: Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants
Away: Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins

AFC WEST

 

Kansas City Chiefs
Home: Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers, Oakland Raiders, Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars, San Francisco 49ers
Away: Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers, Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks

Los Angeles Chargers
Home: Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans
Away: Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks

Oakland Raiders
Home: Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks
Away: Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers

Denver Broncos
Home: Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks
Away: Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Oakland Raiders, Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers

NFC EAST

 

Philadelphia Eagles
Home: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings
Away: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans

Dallas Cowboys
Home: New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans
Away: New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks

Washington Redskins
Home: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts
Away: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans

New York Giants
Home: Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans
Away: Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers

NFC NORTH

 

Minnesota Vikings
Home: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers
Away: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks

Detroit Lions
Home: Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers, Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks
Away: Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers

Green Bay Packers
Home: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers
Away: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins

Chicago Bears
Home: Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Away: Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers

NFC SOUTH

 

New Orleans Saints
Home: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins
Away: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants

Carolina Panthers
Home: Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks
Away: Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins

Atlanta Falcons
Home: Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants
Away: Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Home: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins
Away: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants

NFC WEST

 

Los Angeles Rams
Home: Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles
Away: Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders

Seattle Seahawks
Home: Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota Vikings
Away: Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders

Arizona Cardinals
Home: Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders, Washington Redskins
Away: Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota Vikings

San Francisco 49ers
Home: Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders
Away: Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Minnesota Vikings

Replacing Dalvin Cook: Florida State Football Doesn’t Rebuild They Reload

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In 2017 Florida State football will have to replace the most productive running back in school history. Dalvin Cook was drafted by The Minnesota Vikings with the 41st overall pick to help replace Adrian Peterson. Now, Florida State will have to try and replace him.

Conventional wisdom says they will take a step back, but Florida State football does a lot more reloading than rebuilding these days. As great as Dalvin Cook was during his record breaking career, Florida State’s backfield will probably be their biggest strength this season.

The Seminoles will have two five star running back recruits coming into the program this year, Cam Akers and Khalan Laborn.

Akers was the number 1 ranked running back in the country and the number 2 player overall. The Mississippi native and former high school quarterback accounted for 8,140 passing yards and 5,103 rushing yards in his four years as a starter.  He also tallied 149 total touchdowns.

Laborn was the number 1 ranked all-purpose back in the country. As a starter he compiled over 4,000 yards rushing and 45 touchdowns in his career with an average of 10.5 yards per carry. He was also MVP of the 2017 Under Armour All-American Game.

The Virginia Beach product is definitely ready for the spotlight. He elected to wear number 4, Dalvin Cook’s old number, and he announced his commitment to FSU by hopping out of a Lamborghini and waving a giant FSU flag at the Nike sponsored “The Opening” combine.

Junior, Jaques Patrick and sophomore, Amir Rasul will compete with the two freshman for a majority of the carries this season. Both Patrick and Rasul have game experience. Patrick served as the primary backup for Cook last season.

The running back by committee movement will be pretty fun to watch in 2017.


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