Nineteen months ago, the Minnesota Vikings were on the verge of making it to the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. All Blair Walsh had to do was convert a short field goal.
Instead, his wide-left miss will go down as the second-most infamous missed field goal — next to Gary Andersen in the 1999 NFC Championship Game against the Atlanta Falcons.
The miss was a minor setback compared to what was to follow in the coming months. Teddy Bridgewater wrecked his knee just days after the third preseason game.
After trading for Sam Bradford, the Vikings proceeded to start 5-0, only to fall apart thanks to injuries. A stout defense finally broke down after having to do the heavy lifting the Vikings’ offensive line couldn’t do.
As we all know, Minnesota finished 8-8.
However, things are looking a tiny bit brighter for the 2017-18 season. With Bradford at quarterback, Bridgewater progressing nicely, Adrian Peterson gone and Dalvin Cook in, and some new members on the offensive line, the Vikings are looking to regain the NFC North title.
While I think this defense is poised to be very good this again this season, it’s still the offensive line about which I’m most worried.
Since I moved to Washington state at the beginning of July, it’s been a bit difficult to keep up with the Vikings, but I have managed by listening to podcasts.
Minnesota signed Mike Remmers and Riley Reiff to bolster the offensive line, and it drafted center Pat Elflein, who could potentially be a starter this season.
Personally, I think it’s difficult to build an offensive line through free agency. Great offensive lines need to be drafted. Alex Boone was a big addition for the Vikings last season, but he is an average left guard at best. Having an unathletic quarterback like Bradford doesn’t help, and this is where Minnesota will miss Bridgewater again.
The defense is one of the best in the league, but the offense will leave a lot to be desired.
I see the Vikings going 8-8. Their schedule is very demanding, maybe even more so than last year’s. Minnesota will go on the road to Pittsburgh, Carolina, Atlanta and Washington — four teams that I think will be good this season. The Vikings may catch a break against the Steelers — who they play in Week 2 — if Le’Veon Bell continues to hold out because he wants a new contract.
If Minnesota splits its divisional games and beats Cleveland, Baltimore, Los Angeles (Rams) and Cincinnati, that puts the Vikings at seven wins.
To make the playoffs, Minnesota will need at least 10 wins. The Vikings will need to scrape for three more wins.
I don’t think much will be easy — especially for the offense — for the Vikings this season. Unless the offensive line can protect Bradford, it’ll be a long winter and disappointing at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Glad I moved to Washington.