Anthony Chergosky from DailyNorseman.com gives us a look at the 2009 Minnesota Vikings.
When you think of the 2009 Minnesota Vikings, two words probably enter your mind: Brett Favre. But when taking a look at the team, its chances of repeating as NFC North champs, and its opportunity to go further in the playoffs than it did last season, Favre is just the tip of the iceberg. All over the field and on both sides of the ball, the Vikings are a team built for success this season.
This team's bread and butter is still its ability to run the ball and defend the run. We're not sure what remains to be said about the NFL's leading rusher (Adrian Peterson) and his sidekick (Chester Taylor) -- and despite the uncertain status of both Pat and Kevin Williams, who could be suspended for the first four games of the season, the Williams Wall remains just as solid as its been over the last several seasons. The biggest question mark when it comes to the running game is, like last season, the offensive line -- the departure of Matt Birk leaves John Sullivan (a sixth round pick in the 2008 draft) as the team's starting center, while rookie Phil Loadholt will likely be replacing Ryan Cook on the right side of the line.
Another significant change on the roster comes in the secondary, with safety Tyrell Johnson stepping in for the departed Darren Sharper. Johnson, a second round selection by the Vikings in 2008, saw the field quite a bit last season and was solid but not spectacular. The Vikings will also need Johnson's counterpart, Madieu Williams, to stay healthy -- he missed seven games due to injury last season. Back up front, Jared Allen racked up 14.5 sacks last season and unquestionably lived up to lofty expectations.
The most intrigue, of course, surrounds the passing attack -- because of both the selection of Percy Harvin in the draft and the probable addition of Favre. Harvin is a player who can be used in a plethora of ways, and we're more concerned about the coaching staff's ability to use him creatively than we are about any of the so-called "character concerns" that damaged his draft stock. Meanwhile, Favre's recovery from surgery on his throwing arm is ongoing, but he figures to be ready for training camp. He'll be surrounded by weapons, from Peterson out of the backfield to Bernard Berrian and Harvin in the receiving corps. The stage is set for the 39-year-old quarterback to excel this season, and we're especially excited about the newly-revamped passing attack's ability to take pressure off of Peterson. Though he led the league in rushing yards last season, Peterson was nonetheless hampered by relentless defensive pressure -- which both Tarvaris Jackson and Gus Frerotte failed to loosen. This season should be a much different story
With Favre at the helm, we're anticipating a second-consecutive NFC North title for the Vikings -- an 11-5 record sounds about right, which will be enough to fend off a challenge from the Chicago Bears. As for the playoffs? Well, by now, we're smart enough to not even get into that.