All things considered, the Minnesota Vikings had a slightly above-average season in 2014. They didn't make the playoffs, but they weren't absolutely embarrassing either. Some wondered if they were going to be able to win games without Adrian Peterson and using a rookie quarterback. Now that Peterson is back and the quarterback is more mature, can they start to think playoffs?
The Green Bay Packers are still the best team in the NFC North, but Minnesota is starting to feel a bit more confident in general. They know that the offense could be the best in quite some time for them, and it all starts with Peterson getting back on the field. People are still drafting him very highly in fantasy football mockdraft set ups despite the fact he played in just one game last year. Many are thinking he will come back refreshed since he was able to get some time off. There are some concerns about distractions and possible hatred shown towards him on the road, but players have to deal with that all the time.
Teddy Bridgewater made very nice strides during the 2014 season. It was unknown just how good he would be as a rookie for Minnesota, but the coaching staff definitely feels like they have their franchise guy for years to come. With Peterson back, that should only open things up for him more.
On defense, this team made great strides last year, so building on that is going to put them in playoff discussion. Mike Zimmer took a team over that gave up a lot of points, especially through the air, and actually made them a slightly above average unit. They aren’t perfect, but the offense won’t be forced to put up 30 points a week to win.
The schedule looks tough on paper, but Minnesota should still improve on 7-9 from a year ago. Winning one more game shows improvement, but winning two or more games puts them in the playoff discussion. They might not be getting a lot of attention right now, but they are a team to watch.