Since Mike Zimmer became the Minnesota Vikings coach in 2014, the team has made the playoffs every other season.
2014? No. 2015? Yes. 2016? No. 2017? Yes. 2018? No. 2019? Yes. 2020? No.
So, if you believe in patterns, the Vikes should bounce back from a 7-9 record in 2020 and return to the postseason this year.
For that to happen, Minnesota will need an improved performance from its defense. Only three other NFL teams allowed more points than the Vikings in 2020, and Minnesota held an opponent under 20 points just once in the season’s final 10 games.
Free agent signings like defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson and cornerback Patrick Peterson should help, as well as the return of veterans Danielle Hunter (neck surgery) and Michael Pierce (COVID opt-out), who both missed the 2020 campaign.
On offense, Minnesota will again build its gameplan around Pro Bowl running back Dalvin Cook. Cook ran for a career-high 1,557 yards a year ago to go along with a personal-best 16 rushing touchdowns. Quarterback Kirk Cousins threw for 35 touchdowns in 2020, and top targets Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen should again see plenty of passes thrown their way. Jefferson led the team with 1,400 yards as a rookie, while Thielen found the end zone 14 times.
The Vikings open the 2021 season with two consecutive road games, visiting Cincinnati on September 12 and then traveling to Arizona on the 19th. Minnesota’s home opener at U.S. Bank Stadium is a Week 3 date with Seattle.
NFC North play begins for the Vikes in October, as the Lions come to town in Week 5. Minnesota also gets its first national television spotlight game later that month, a Sunday night game against Dallas on October 31.
The Vikings will appear on Thursday Night Football and Monday Night Football in December, hosting the Steelers and then traveling to face the Bears. The regular season ends with two final divisional games: a Sunday night contest in Green Bay on January 2 and a home game against Chicago seven days later.
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