2022 Bold Predictions: Minnesota Vikingsby Mike Fanelli June 5, 2022 0 comments
The Minnesota Vikings made several changes during the offseason. They fired general manager Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer, replacing them with Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell. With the new regime in place, many are excited to see what the Vikings can do this upcoming season. Furthermore, the division is arguably up for grabs. The Green Bay Packers lost a few starters from last year’s team, including Davante Adams. Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions are in the middle of rebuilding projects. Could the Vikings win the NFC North division for the first time since 2017? Let’s dive into four bold predictions for the Vikings.
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Justin Jefferson Leads the NFL in Receiving Yards
Jefferson would have led the league in receiving yards if not for Cooper Kupp’s historic season. Kupp had 1,947 receiving yards, while Jefferson had 1,616. However, Jefferson had 63 more receiving yards than Adams and 161 more than Ja’Marr Chase. His performance was impressive given the offensive system the Vikings were running last year. Furthermore, Jefferson is entering his third NFL season and year three is typically when wide receivers break out. While he is already one of the very best wide receivers in the NFL, Jefferson’s game has room to grow. With O’Connell installed as the new head coach, expect the Vikings to use Jefferson similarly to how the Los Angeles Rams used Kupp last season. A big year is coming for Jefferson.
Danielle Hunter Sets a Career-High in Sacks
Last year was one to forget for Hunter and the Minnesota defense. The veteran edge rusher had only six sacks in 2021, matching his career-low. However, he played in a career-low seven games. The previous two years were much better for Hunter. He had 14.5 sacks both years, playing in all 32 games. Furthermore, he finished top-five in 2019 and 2020 in sacks. More importantly, the Vikings signed Za’Darius Smith after the Packers released him this offseason. While Smith missed most of the 2021 season with a back injury, the veteran is ready to get revenge on the Packers. With defenses concerned about Smith on the other side, Hunter will be able to take advantage of his matchups with ease.
Dalvin Cook has Over 17 Total Touchdowns
Much of the Minnesota team had a down year in 2021. One of those players was Cook. He averaged 4.7 yards per rushing attempt, matching his career average. However, he had only six touchdowns in 13 games, his lowest total since 2018. While that is alarming, Cook was very unlucky last season. He had 47 red zone touches, the ninth most among running backs last, according to PlayerProfiler. He also had seven goal-line rushing attempts. Unfortunately, Cook struggled to convert those touches into touchdowns. However, the Vikings have been experimenting with new ways to use Cook in practice this offseason. Between the new offense and a little luck, Cook should set a new career-high in touchdowns this season.
Adam Thielen has Under 10 Receiving Touchdowns
Few wide receivers have been better at getting in the end zone than Thielen the past few years. He has scored at least 10 touchdowns each of the past two years, including a career-high 14 in 2020. However, all good things must come to an end. Jefferson is expected to take on a bigger role this year, especially in the red zone. Irv Smith is returning after missing last season with a knee injury. Meanwhile, K.J. Osborn had seven touchdowns last season and should have a bigger role in 2022. Thielen remains one of the better red zone weapons in the NFL, but his streak of 10 or more receiving touchdowns comes to an end this year.
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