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NFL Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota Vikings: 10 Bold Predictions For The 2014 Season

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Minnesota Vikings: 10 Bold Predictions For 2014 Season

Matt Cassel Minnesota Vikings
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The beginning of the NFL regular season is right around the corner, and optimism is high around the league. After a perfect preseason filled with successes, head coach Mike Zimmer and the new-look Minnesota Vikings are beginning to look more and more like possible dark horse contenders. In order for this to become a reality, multiple “bold” expectations must be met.

Here are 10 bold predictions for the Vikings’ 2014 season.

10. Harrison Smith Will Finish In The Top 5 in Interceptions

Harrison Smith Minnesota Vikings
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

10. Harrison Smith Will Finish In The Top 5 in Interceptions

Harrison Smith Minnesota Vikings
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Through his first 24 NFL games, Smith has recorded five interceptions. While he is coming off an injury, Smith is one of the few proven assets among the Vikings’ secondary. Teams that win the turnover battle regularly tend to be the teams playing in January, and Smith will be a big part of that for the Vikings.

9. Teddy Bridgewater Will Not Start a Game

Teddy Bridgewater Minnesota Vikings
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

9. Teddy Bridgewater Will Not Start a Game

Teddy Bridgewater Minnesota Vikings
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

This prediction is by no means a slight on the Vikings’ rookie quarterback. Bridgewater excelled during the preseason, but his counterpart, Matt Cassel, also played well. Under new offensive coordinator Norv Turner, Cassel is primed for a career year, which should keep Bridgewater on the sidelines for the entire 2014 season.

8. Greg Jennings Will Record Over 1,000 Receiving Yards

Greg Jennings Minnesota Vikings
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

8. Greg Jennings Will Record Over 1,000 Receiving Yards

Greg Jennings Minnesota Vikings
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

In the past, Jennings was a sure thing to reach the 1,000-yard receiving mark every season. From 2008 to 2010, Jennings consistently reached this mark, with only injuries keeping him from reaching it again in 2011. He was at his best last season with Matt Cassel at the helm for the Vikings. With Cassel set to be the Vikings’ starter for the foreseeable future, Jennings should be on the verge of his fourth 1000-yard season.

7. Defense Will Finish Ranked In The Top 15

Mike Zimmer Minnesota Vikings
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

7. Defense Will Finish Ranked In The Top 15

Mike Zimmer Minnesota Vikings
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Predicting anything to rank in the top 15 is generally not considered a “bold” prediction, but the Vikings’ defense is a different story. This is a unit that ranked towards or at the bottom of every defensive category in 2013. With Mike Zimmer and George Edwards now controlling the defense, the Vikings’ defense should drastically improve in 2014.

6. Kyle Rudolph Will Catch Double-Digit Touchdowns

Kyle Rudolph Minnesota Vikings
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

6. Kyle Rudolph Will Catch Double-Digit Touchdowns

Kyle Rudolph Minnesota Vikings
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

After scoring nine touchdowns in 2012, Rudolph was a major disappointment in 2013, finding the end zone only three times in eight games played. New offensive coordinator Norv Turner has a history of getting the most out of his tight ends, using them as a focal point of nearly every offense he has coached. Rudolph has high potential and elite hands, which should help him put together a career year in 2014.

5. Anthony Barr Will Lead All Rookies in Sacks

Anthony Barr Minnesota Vikings
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

5. Anthony Barr Will Lead All Rookies in Sacks

Anthony Barr Minnesota Vikings
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

It is no secret that the Vikings’ rookie linebacker has some work to do in pass defense. However, Barr already has the talent and skills to get to the quarterback as a pass rusher. Zimmer and the Vikings will put Barr in a great position to record quarterback sacks, which should give him an edge over other elite defensive rookies such as Jadeveon Clowney.

4. Offense Will Be Ranked In The Top 10

Norv Turner Minnesota Vikings
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

4. Offense Will Be Ranked In The Top 10

Norv Turner Minnesota Vikings
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

From veterans like Adrian Peterson and Greg Jennings, to young players like Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Rudolph, the Vikings are loaded with offensive talent. If Matt Cassel can put together a season like he did for the New England Patriots back in 2008, this could very easily become an elite offensive group.

3. Cordarrelle Patterson Will Score Double-Digit Touchdowns

Cordarrelle Patterson Minnesota Vikings
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

3. Cordarrelle Patterson Will Score Double-Digit Touchdowns

Cordarrelle Patterson Minnesota Vikings
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Patterson really did not come on until late last season, recording six touchdowns in the final five weeks of the season. In total, Patterson recorded nine touchdowns last season, which should not make double-digit touchdowns a difficult task for a player with breakout expectations.

2. Adrian Peterson Will Score 100th Career Rushing Touchdown

Adrian Peterson Minnesota Vikings
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

2. Adrian Peterson Will Score 100th Career Rushing Touchdown

Adrian Peterson Minnesota Vikings
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Entering the 2014 season, Peterson has scored 86 total rushing touchdowns throughout his career. He has scored double-digit touchdowns every year, and at least 12 in every season except one. With Norv Turner in town, Peterson is set to have one of his best seasons to date, which should not make 14 rushing touchdowns out of reach.

1. Vikings Will Make the Playoffs

Minnesota Vikings Team Celebration
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

1. Vikings Will Make the Playoffs

Minnesota Vikings Team Celebration
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Few analysts believe that the Vikings can qualify for the playoffs in what is expected to be a very competitive NFC North Division. However, it is very possible that the Vikings can win enough games to qualify for a wild card spot. With the San Francisco 49ers experiencing a lot of issues and the Carolina Panthers not expected to be the same this season, making the playoffs should not be seen as an unreachable goal in Minnesota.

Robert Reidell is a Featured Blogger for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google+