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NFL Minnesota Vikings

5 Reasons the Minnesota Vikings Will Win the NFC North in 2014

Minnesota Vikings: 5 Reasons They Will Win the NFC North in 2014

Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings
Hannah Foslien-Getty Images

A year after winning 10 games and earning a playoff berth, the Minnesota Vikings finished last in the NFC North with a 5-10-1 record last year. Mike Zimmer has replaced Leslie Frazier as head coach, and he's brought an experienced coaching staff with him to help turn things around quickly in Minnesota.

Here are five reasons the Vikings will win the NFC North this year.

5. Adrian Peterson Back at Full Strength

Adrian Peterson
Jamie Squire-Getty Images

5. Adrian Peterson Back at Full Strength

Adrian Peterson
Jamie Squire-Getty Images

Peterson had over 1,200 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns last season in 14 games, and he was less than 100 percent healthy in a few of the games he played in. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner has a plan to get him more involved in the passing game this year, and a fully healthy Peterson is still arguably the best running back in the league.

4. Cordarrelle Patterson Will Be Involved Right Away

Cordarrelle Patterson
Adam Bettcher-Getty Images

4. Cordarrelle Patterson Will Be Involved Right Away

Cordarrelle Patterson
Adam Bettcher-Getty Images

Patterson's offensive role was limited for a big chunk of last season, and when he finally got significant playing time he had six touchdowns (three receiving, three rushing) over the final five games. Turner seems certain to find a way to get Patterson as many touches as possible.

3. Better Quarterback Play

Matt Cassel, Minnesota Vikings
Hannah Foslien-Getty Images

3. Better Quarterback Play

Matt Cassel, Minnesota Vikings
Hannah Foslien-Getty Images

A big part of Minnesota's issues in 2013 stemmed from having three quarterbacks start games, led by 2011 first-round bust Christian Ponder's inexplicable team-high nine starts. Matt Cassel and rookie Teddy Bridgewater now occupy the top two spots on the depth chart, and barring significant injuries one or the other will start all 16 games this year.

2. Better Defense

Captain Munnerlyn, Minnesota Vikings
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

2. Better Defense

Captain Munnerlyn, Minnesota Vikings
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings' defense was simply abysmal last year, and late-game breakdowns were a regular occurrence. A new defensive scheme spearheaded by Zimmer should yield improvement, along with the offseason additions that most notably added depth along the defensive line and at cornerback.

1. Better Coaching

Norv Turner, Minnesota Vikings
Bruce Kluckhohn- USA TODAY Sports

1. Better Coaching

Norv Turner, Minnesota Vikings
Bruce Kluckhohn- USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota's previous coaching staff had a tendency to limit players strictly to the roles they envisioned, however limited, and they also had a unique ability to set players up to fail (see Josh Freeman and Josh Robinson in 2013). The new regime, led by Zimmer, has the acumen and imagination required to put players in a position to succeed.