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NFL Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota Vikings: Five Players Who Will Shine in Week 1

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NFL Week 1: Five Minnesota Vikings Who Will Shine vs. Detroit

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Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

At this time a year ago, expectations surrounding the Minnesota Vikings, at least externally, were decidedly low. From questions about the health of running back Adrian Peterson as he worked his way back from a severe left knee injury to doubts about quarterback Christian Ponder, six wins looked like a high-water mark.

Of course Peterson nearly set the single-season record for rushing yards (2,097), and Ponder helped lead the team to four straight wins to end the regular season as the Vikings went 10-6 and earned a playoff spot. But the season ended on a disappointing note with a loss in the Wild Card Round to the Green Bay Packers, and Ponder missed that game with an arm injury.

Peterson has set a lofty goal of 2,500 rushing yards for this season, but Ponder clearly has to take a step forward in his second full season as the starter for the Vikings to reach the postseason again in 2013. The Vikings added talent at wide receiver, via free agency (Greg Jennings) and April’s draft (Cordarrelle Patterson) to help Ponder be successful.

The Vikings swept the Detroit Lions, their Week 1 opponent, last season as Peterson topped 100 yards on the ground in both contests (273 total rushing yards). Ponder also posted one of his best passer ratings of the season in the second contest, in Week 10, as he went 24-for-32 for 221 yards and two touchdowns

As Minnesota looks to start the season with a victory on the road against a division rival, here are five Vikings I think will shine in Week 1.

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5. TE Kyle Rudolph

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Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Rudolph had one of the best games of his career against the Lions in Week 10 last season, with seven catches for 64 yards and a touchdown. The reception total is his single-game high through two seasons, and the yardage is the second-best single game total of his career. Ponder should look Rudolph’s way often on Sunday, and good production is likely to follow.

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4. WR Greg Jennings

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Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Jennings has of course spent his entire career to this point with the Packers, but he produced against the Lions during that time with three 100-yard games and five games with at least five catches in 11 career games against them. He now becomes the No. 1 wide receiver in Minnesota, and look for him to start the season on a high note.

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3. DE Jared Allen

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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Allen has been a disruptive force against the Lions, with 13.5 sacks in 11 career games against them. As long as last year's nagging injuries are behind him, he should have his way against Detroit left tackle Riley Reiff.

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2. DT Sharrif Floyd

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Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Floyd may start and see significant action in his NFL debut if Kevin Williams (knee) is out or limited at all, and I think he can be a disruptive force no matter how many snaps he sees.

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1. RB Adrian Peterson

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Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Peterson is an obvious choice, but his track record against Detroit can’t be ignored. He has 100 or more rushing yards in seven of 11 career games against the Lions, along with nine touchdowns and a yards per-carry average of 5.4. “All Day” should get plenty of work on Sunday, and another big game against the Lions is definitely within reach.