We’ve come to the part of the NFL calendar where anything is possible. With nearly six weeks to go to training camp, fans are desperate for any news about their favorite teams.
In other words, welcome to prediction season.
Prediction season (or SZN as the kids call it) began with fanfare last week when Colin Cord predicted the Minnesota Vikings would double their win total in 2022. Was Cowherd screaming the Kool-Aid purple? Can. But it may not be as strange as it seems.
Last season, the 2022 Vikings had the following:
With such a bad laundry list, the Vikings could go 4-13 last season. Somehow, they won eight games. If Cowherd’s calculations are correct, he thinks the Vikings will have a 16-1 season, which is crazy.
But what if Coward was clairvoyant and knew the Vikings would go 16-1 next year? It begins with Cowherd’s main reasoning for his predictions.
“I think the Minnesota Vikings and coach Mike Zimmer and Kirk Cousins had a really bad relationship,” Coward said. “Now they are coming [Sean] The McVay guy who’s supposed to be a taller version of McVay.”
Zimmer and Cousins haven’t had the greatest relationship. It took four years for them to come together to discuss the game plan on a weekly basis. Until then, Zimmer has only given his cousins 45 minutes.
This feud took place behind closed doors until the Fifth Week celebration nearly turned into a street fight. The rest of the season was filled with discussions about who could summon the timeout and Zimmer’s plea for Cousins to get more aggressive until Zimmer ran out of town.
But things could change with the arrival of Kevin O’Connell. Working at McVay’s altar isn’t a bad way to start your career as a coach, and neither is having a previous relationship with your quarterback. Since O’Connell has worked with Cousins in Washington, there’s a good chance you’ll spend more than 45 minutes reviewing the game plan. There is a better chance that O’Connell can put his cousins in a position to succeed.
Quarterly confuse my brain, cousins often stick to his first read. The “illusion of complexity” can create multiple wide open throws, which can help the Cousins have the best season of their career.
But the Vikings will need more than a big wake-up from the middle to win 16 games. They will also need a clean health bill.
The Vikings won 13 games in 2017, mainly because they avoided injuries. All 11 starters in defense from week one are the same players who started in the NFC Championship match. Minnesota also escaped serious injuries. No team has won more with losing a few games.
For the Vikings to repeat this feat, they would have to reverse certain trends.
Dalvin Cook did not play a full season due to injuries. Adam Thielen has missed 10 games over the past three seasons. Daniel Hunter has played only seven games since the start of the 2020 season. Zedarius Smith’s bulging disc is a time bomb inside his back.
The Vikings would be lucky to avoid all of these traps for an entire season, but that’s nothing compared to their biggest opponent: Father Time.
Minnesota is heading into this season with six expected novices over the age of 30. While Harrison Smith, Eric Kendricks, Patrick Peterson, Jordan Hicks, Smith and Tillen all played at a high level, the game ultimately affects everyone.
Zimmer doesn’t seem to understand the concept because he has conducted his players through rigorous practices – even before the play-off games. But Peterson told the media last week that he was relieved after the small camp and noted the new staff used Sports Science to keep his players available on Sundays.
This all sounds great, but the Vikings still need some help. This is where a little luck comes in.
It starts with the NFC North, where every team may have gotten worse this season. Ryan Pauls leads the Chicago Bears in rebuilding scorched earth. Dan Campbell still feels like Homer Simpson is running the power plant in Detroit, and the Green Bay Packers lost two of Aaron Rodgers’ best goals to Davante Adams and Marquis Valdes-Scantling.
If these three teams couldn’t get down to earth, the Vikings could score six victories there. Then look at the rest of their schedule.
- The Philadelphia Eagles have built the perfect infrastructure for the quarterback, but Galen Hurts may not be the one benefiting from it.
- No one knows what New Orleans Saints would look like without Sean Payton, and the Vikings would play this game on a neutral court.
- Playing the Miami Dolphins sounds like a trap, but Tyreek Hill describes Tua Tagovailoa as “more accurate than Patrick Mahomes,” which is the first thing you say when you’re not sure if your quarterback is any good.
- The Vikings will bring the Arizona Cardinals just in time for their annual second-half meltdown, and the Cousins get their flight back to Washington in the middle of the Kirktopper.
- The Buffalo Bills may be a loss, but it could also become a case of Pro Wrestling 101 where Stefon Diggs is so exhausted by defeating his opponent that he becomes detrimental to himself.
- Mike McCarthy is a clown, and is anyone afraid of McJones? The New York Giants and New York Jets are basically the same team, and the key to beating the Indianapolis Colts might be stopping Jonathan Taylor.
Sure, there can be a hiccup, but it’s no wonder Coward sees only one loss in the schedule. Maybe it didn’t go far enough.
Winters in Minnesota are harsh, so Father Time will probably head to Tampa and catch up with Tom Brady.
Before the Los Angeles Rams won the Super Bowl, they were the fourth seed in the NFC and people were trying to see if they were any good.
Kyle Shanahan is a match-throttle artist, and we’ve already rejected NFC East entirely.
What about the AFC? Well, you are on your own there.
Case in point, there is a situation where everything could go right for the Vikings. But this scenario probably lives on in fantasy land, leaving everyone to set their own expectations.