Final Record: 11-5
In 2017, the Vikings will push the Packers all the way for the divisional title but will end up settling for a wild card spot due their worse head-to-head record. Minnesota will have an indifferent start, splitting their first six games after a loss in Green Bay in mid-October.
The loss will spur the Vikings on during a five-game win streak, which will finally be broken by losing to the Atlanta Falcons, their offensive firepower being too much for Minnesota to overcome. Heading into their last four games with an 8-4 record, a return to the playoffs will be secured by three wins in the final four games clinching their place in the tournament and keeping dreams of a home Super Bowl alive.
Offensive MVPs: The Offensive Line
For my record prediction to come to pass, the offensive line will have to perform at a much higher level than it did in 2016. Fortunately with the additions of Riley Reiff, Pat Elflein and Mike Remmers, the make-up of that unit looks considerably different to last year’s edition and will be greatly improved in both pass protection and run blocking.
By the end of the season the revamped group won’t be regarded as one of the best in the league but they will have made a huge contribution to the Vikings’ much improved offensive performance.
Defensive MVP: Xavier Rhodes
In 2017, Rhodes will justify his expensive new contract and establish himself as an elite lockdown cornerback. The Vikings’ schedule only features a handful of elite wide receivers and after facing (and containing) Mike Evans in Week 3, Rhodes won’t be challenged until he lines up across from Julio Jones in Week 13.
During those 10 weeks Rhodes will force opposing quarterbacks to focus on the other side of the field and punish them when they chose to test him.
Rhodes won’t be able to perform at his usual high standard against Jones. But by then he will have matched his career-high interception total and over the final four games, will play a large part in helping the Vikings return to the playoffs.