Why Minnesota will win the NFC North

By Eric Krupka  |   Monday, September 01, 2008  |  Comments( 4 )

Minnesota Vikings
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The Vikings haven't made the playoffs since 2004, but with key acquisitions on defense (Jared Allen, Madieu Williams) and another solid draft class, optimism and high expectations abound in Minnesota. This is a critical season for third-year head coach Brad Childress, who has posted a 14-18 record in his two campaigns at the helm, as many believe he must guide the Vikings into the playoffs or else face the possibility of hitting the unemployment line.

By the time the offseason comes, though, Childress shouldn't be worrying about his job security. Why? Because the Vikings will be back in the playoffs this season. Here are five reasons they will win the NFC North ...

-Run defense. Minnesota has easily been the best in the NFL against the run the past two seasons. With the Williams Wall -- Pat and Kevin Williams, a phenomenal tackle tandem who are a combined 628 pounds -- on the interior and a solid linebacking corps, it’s become nearly impossible to successfully run against the Vikings.

-The acquisitions of Allen and Williams. As good as the Vikings’ run defense has been the past two seasons, the pass 'D' has been equally terrible. In fact, despite dominating against the run, Minnesota finished dead last versus the pass in 2007. The pass rush was quite inconsistent, which didn’t help, so trading for ex-Kansas City Chief Allen -- the league's most prolific sack artist from last year -- should bolster the aerial defense purely from the amount of pressure he will put on opposing quarterbacks. Williams, meanwhile, is a former Bengals safety known for his great coverage skills; adding him via free agency will make the secondary a lot more formidable than it was last season.

-Adrian Peterson. Last year's seventh overall pick from the University of Oklahoma tore up the league as a rookie, setting the single-game rushing record against the San Diego Chargers by amassing 296 yards; in total, he accumulated 1,609 all-purpose yards and 13 touchdowns in 14 games. If he stays healthy, there’s no reason to believe Peterson can't approach the 2,000-yard rushing goal he's set for himself. With the amount of talent Peterson possesses, not to mention the great offensive line in front of him, an MVP season isn’t out of the question either.

-Tarvaris Jackson. Many see the third-year quarterback as the lone weakness on a well-rounded team. However, Jackson, who has much more control of the huddle than before and is recognizing defenses, had the Vikings' passing offense looking solid in the preseason. If he can stay healthy and protect the football, Minnesota should win a fair share of its contests. And if needed, veteran Gus Frerotte could step in and fare decently enough for the talented Vikings. Either way, the quarterback situation is much improved over 2007, when a younger Jackson, Kelly Holcomb and Brooks Bollinger all started games for the Vikings.

-Eric Krupka is a senior writer for RealFootball365.com. He can be contacted at.

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About Eric Krupka

Eric Krupka joined RealFootball365 as a Vikings columnist in November 2005.
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