2008 Minnesota Vikings Team Preview – Season Schedule – Betting Odds

Minnesota Vikings 2008 Season Preview

2007 Record 8-8 (7-7-2 ATS)

Stadium: Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
Head Coach: Brad Childress (3rd Season 14-18)

Current 2008 Super Bowl Odds 30-to-1 at Bovada.

Training Camp Site: Minnesota State University, Mankato, Minn.

Training Camp Dates: July 25 August 14

There is no team in the NFL that has improved themselves more in the
off-season then the Minnesota Vikings. Optimism is high because the
Vikings have done it quickly via a draft-week trade for defensive end
Jared Allen and free agent pickups WR Bernard Berrian and safety
Madieu Williams.

With running back Adrian Peterson seeing eight- and nine-man fronts,
the Vikings will need third-year quarterback Tarvaris Jackson to take
his game to the next level in order to reach the next level - the
playoffs.

Whos In/Whos Out

As mentioned, the Vikings made major draft-week news when they gave up a gaggle of picks to Kansas City for pass-rush specialist Allen.
But that was just part of the renovation on the defensive side of the
ball, as they added veteran defensive backs S Michael Boulware (from
Houston), CB Benny Sapp (from KC) and Williams (from Cincinnati) all
in free agency to give the leagues worst pass defense in 2007
(allowed 264.1 ypg) a major facelift.

Other new faces include QB Gus Frerotte, RB Maurice Hicks and LB Derrick Pope.

The most notable names to leave the Vikings over the off-season were
S Dwight Smith, third-down RB Mewelde Moore and FB Tony Richardson.
The defensive line lost some depth too when the Vikings let oft-
injured end Erasmus James walk away, as well as DT Spencer Johnson
and DE Darrion Scott.

Minnesotas draft class of 2008 will likely make very little impact
on the field. Second-rounder Tyrell Johnson (Arkansas State) could
get on the field in nickel situations, but the rest of the class is
bench depth. QB John David Booty (5th USC) could be a sleeper pick
in a few years when the Vikings give up on Jackson, but for now hell
hold the clipboard. Center John Sullivan (6th Notre Dame) and
defensive tackle Letroy Guion (5th Florida State) will only be
pressed into action if injuries wreak havoc on the starters during
the preseason or training camp.

Offense

Two words Tarvaris Jackson.

Nothing else is more important to the Vikings offense in 2008 than
the play of Jackson at quarterback. Jackson was a work in progress
last season in just his second year behind center, and he will need
to improve on his accuracy (58.2 completion %, only 1,911 yards and 9
TD’s) and cut down on his turnovers (12 interceptions, four fumbles)
if hes going to take the Vikings to the next stage.

The real reason the Vikings need Jackson to step up at QB is because the Vikings will continue to have one of the best running games in
the NFL. Rookie of the Year Adrian Peterson is a flat-out stud at
running back (1,341 yds., 12 TD), and the All-Pro left side of their
offensive line (Bryant McKinnie and Steve Hutchinson) along with
center Matt Birk give him ample room to run. Jackson will have to be
good enough to loosen up all of the men on the line of scrimmage
trying to stop Peterson, because theres no doubt defenses will
scheme to make Jackson beat them by throwing the ball.

Berrian (from the Bears) gives Jackson a legit deep threat at receiver, something the Vikings have lacked. Can Jackson get it to
him? Bobby Wade, Sidney Rice and Robert Ferguson are solid possession
guys when they need to spread the field. The book is still out on
tight end Visanthe Shiancoe because his numbers last year (27 rec.,
323 yds., 1 TD in 15 starts) are mediocre at best.

Defense

Oh what a defense the Vikings will have this season. Providing all of
the new faces in the secondary mess together well.

With defensive tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams standing firm inside, the Vikings should remain the leagues best against the run
(allowed 74.1 ypg). Allen and his 15.5 sacks give the Vikings
defensive line the guy out on the edge they have been lacking. Allen
should draw double teams freeing up Ray Edwards on the other side.

The improved pass rush will also help the defensive secondary deal with its makeover. Corners Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin and
safety Darren Sharper all return to join the rest of the secondary
they brought in during free agency. How quickly the secondary gels
will be the key to the entire defensive units performance this season.

Special Teams

With the ideal Metrodome weather for home games the Vikings kicking
game should be good, and it is. Kicker Ryan Longwell continues to be
one of the most accurate in the game (20-of-24, long of 55) and
punter Chris Kluwe dropped a whopping 34 punts inside the 20 last
year with a 44.7 yard average (37 net).

Peterson is probably the best kickoff return option, but theres little chance the Vikings will expose him to injury. Aundrae Allison
(28.7 yds. avg.) came on late in the season last year and will most
likely get the first shot at keeping the job. Bobby Wade returns
punts for now until someone takes the job away from him.

2008 Schedule

Sept. 8 at Green Bay Packers
Sept. 14 INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Sept. 21 CAROLINA PANTHERS
Sept. 28 at Tennessee Titans
Oct. 6 at New Orleans Saints
Oct. 12 DETROIT LIONS
Oct. 19 at Chicago Bears
Oct. 26 Bye
Nov. 2 HOUSTON TEXANS
Nov. 9 GREEN BAY PACKERS
Nov. 16 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Nov. 23 at Jacksonville Jaguars
Nov. 30 CHICAGO BEARS
Dec. 7 at Detroit Lions
Dec. 14 at Arizona Cardinals
Dec. 21 ATLANTA FALCONS
Dec. 28 NEW YORK GIANTS

Betting Odds and Projections

Young teams are always so inconsistent, so thats the main reason
betting on Minnesota in 2007 was a tough proposition. How else do you
explain a seven-point loss at home to Philly one week, followed by a
35-17 thumping of San Diego the next week. Inconsistent play from a
young offense is why the Vikings struggled and lost bettors money
with a 7-7-2 ATS record and an 8-7-1 O/U record in 07.

At 30-1, the Vikings are sitting right in the middle of the glut of NFL teams that would
need a lot of help to reach the big dance. If you think Jackson is
poised for a breakout season, the 30-to-1 odds could net you a nice
payday.

The Vikings will need to come out of training camp healthy and ready
to play too, as their schedule in September is one of the toughest
and they cannot afford to slip to far behind the NFC North pack early.