I think it’s safe to say that every Minnesota Vikings fan has an ache deep in their bones to watch Adrian Peterson put on a show running the football. At the same time, I think we’re all excited to see what Cordarrelle Patterson can do on special teams. The thing that makes cold sweat dribble down the spine of a lot of fans is the questions about Christian Ponder and the passing game.
The Vikings passing game which came in 31st in 2012 one spot worse than the New York Jets, and one spot better than the Kansas City Chiefs. What did the Vikings do about the inept passing game this offseason? Rick Spielman sent Percy Harvin packing and brought in Matt Cassel, the only quarterback statistically worse than Ponder.
As I wrote earlier, the Vikings front office made some moves in free agency and the draft to shore up the defense. I’m a little concerned about Erin Henderson filling in at middle linebacker, but I’m willing to take a wait and see stance on that side of the ball.
The Vikings have the 10th–hardest schedule in the league this year, opening up with two games on the road against division rivals the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears. I think the running game can keep up with the Lions, but the Bears’ defense is a wall too tough to break.
Hosting two teams that are still trying to find themselves in the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers should prove to be a nice homecoming. I think the Vikings have it in them to pull out close ones for back-to-back wins.
After the bye week, the Vikings face a very hard stretch of games with very little time to catch their breaths. The remainder of the schedule is full of games against playoff teams and teams on the rise. The Vikings will need to win games against the Carolina Panthers and New York Giants in order to preserve their record against the Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks. All of which are games they are more likely to lose on the arm of Christian Ponder than win on the feet of Adrian Peterson alone.
There isn’t the slightest amount of breathing room in the schedule again until Week 13 when the Bears come to town. Facing the Baltimore Ravens in Week 14 might also be a blessing as they are ironically rebuilding this year.
Finishing out the year visiting the red-hot Cincinnati Bengals before hosting the Lions will probably prove to be must-win game just to hit the 9-7 mark. It’s a mark that will be a bitter pill to swallow after last year’s 10-6 finish. Still, I can’t see Christian Ponder taking this team on a deep playoff run.