Minnesota Vikings 2019 Team Preview
Russell S. Baxter
Minnesota Vikings 2019 Season Preview
By Nathan Brown
Special to Pro Football Guru
The Minnesota Vikings have been an up-and-down team the past two years. In 2017, they finished 13-3, won the NFC North and appeared in the NFC Championship Game only to be obliterated by the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. But the 2018 Vikings wound up taking a turn in the wrong direction. Mike Zimmer’s club finished 8-7-1, good enough for second place in their division. But there would be no return to the playoffs. This year’s club looks to get back to its successful ways of ’17.
Offense: In 2018, this team struggled to score, It finished 19th in the NFL in points per game opposed to 11th in 2017. Minnesota was the NFL’s 18th-ranked DVOA offense (courtesy of Football Outsiders) compared to the 10th the previous year. So why the down year? The offensive line ranked 29th in pass blocking efficiency via Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Quarterback Kirk Cousins, in his first season with the team, was sacked 40 times one year after Vikings’ starter Case Keenum was sacked only 22 times. Running back Dalvin Cook accumulated 920 yards from scrimmage in just 11 games last year and will look to play his first full season. Wide receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs have combined for 307 receptions, 4,519 yards and 30 touchdowns since the duo really broke out in 2017. As for that aforementioned line, it should be improved with the addition of 2019 first-round center Garrett Bradbury.
Defense: The unit took just a small step back from the 2017 season where they were the second-best DVOA defense in the NFL and first in the League in fewest points allowed per game. In 2018, they finished the season fourth in DVOA defense and ninth in points surrendered. Part of the falloff was due to the lack of team’s lack of offense. This group is led by a defensive front featuring interior presence Linval Joseph and ends Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter. Add in cornerback Xavier Rhodes, linebackers Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr and safety Harrison Smith and this group is a real nightmare for opposing offenses. Look for this unit to be as good as ever.
Special Teams: An underappreciated part of football, Minnesota’s units ranked 20th in the NFL in DVOA this past season. The unit is led by former Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey – who missed only one PAT last year but hit on only 75.0 percent of his field-goal attempts (21-of-28), tying a career-low. Punter Matt Wile averaged 45.2 yards per kick in 2018.
Prediction: The Vikings have the 10th-hardest strength of schedule in 2019 (based off 2018 win-percentage). Look for this team to return to its 2017 form. Both the offense and defense will rank in the league’s Top 10 in both DVOA, points scored and points allowed. This team has way too many stars for it to miss the playoffs again. Look for this club to find its way to the conference title game, where it belongs.
Win-Loss Record: 11-5 (1st Place, NFC North, reach NFC Championship Game)