4 bold predictions for the 2021 NFL season
The past decade has been a tough one for the Minnesota Vikings. Reached 4 playoff appearances in the 2010s on the back of some elite Mike Zimmer defenses, the team completely reversed the storyline in 2020, finishing with the fourth best offense in the NFL (Professional football benchmark), but saw its defense, decried by injuries and overall poor performance, drop to sixth. In 2021, Minnesota appear ready to put it all together, with elite defensive players returning from injury and one of the league’s most balanced units on offense for the second year.
Kirk Cousins established himself as an above average passer as he threw a career-high 35 touchdowns in 2020 against 13 interceptions for his second consecutive season with a higher passer rating to 100. Cousins thrived in Minnesota focused on play and action. passing play, smart decision-making and excellent precision make it a deadly aerial attack with aspiring star wide receiver Justin Jefferson and the ever-underrated Adam Thielen. Combine that with Dalvin Cook’s versatile and explosive rushing ability behind the dreaded Viking run blocking line, and it makes what should be an elite attack again.
Mike Zimmer is one of the best defensive minds in the NFL, but Minnesota as a group struggled mightily in 2020. They gave up well over 6,000 yards of total attack last season, surrounded by the Bengals and Falcons. of the category. However, being riddled with injuries and with a scheme that must have finally cracked, expect a rebound in 2020.
If all goes well on paper, the Vikings will have a great year 2021. Here are 4 bold predictions for them in 2021.
4. The Vikings’ defense has an explosive return to form
While it was confusing to see Minnesota suffer so much on defense last season, they missed mainstays Danielle Hunter, Anthony Barr and Michael Pierce each for most or all of 2020. With those three back and in good shape. health in the fold in 2021, as well as the additions of Patrick Peterson, Dalvin Tomlinson, Mackenzie Alexander and Xavier Woods, and this group is once again loaded with both depth and talent.
In defense, it all starts in the trenches. Since the Vikings will now be able to generate a formidable pass rush, everything opens up in the game sheet for Zimmer. As masters of sending out complex blitz packages and creating mayhem, this group will return to the bag and takeout rankings, en route to total defense in the top ten.
3. Dalvin Cook leads the league in the race
As Cook has played at least 14 games in consecutive seasons now, it seems he has dispelled the idea that he is an injury-prone player. And, from 1,135 yards to 1,557 in 2020, Cook has now increased his rushing total by at least 250 in each of the 4 seasons he has played.
He’s physically gifted, but it’s clear that his ability to develop his knowledge in the game and improve weak spots in his game year after year is what pushes him into the elite level of full-backs. Now that the Vikings are expected to have a much better defense that will lead them to favorable play scripts, they can hand the stone over to Cook to salt the game much more often in 2021.
Given that Derrick Henry was the only full-back within 370 yards of Cook, and Henry’s workload will certainly be reduced now that Julio Jones is in town in Tennessee, Dalvin will be able to overtake King Henry by rushing in. 2021 for the throne.
2. Justin Jefferson eclipses 1,500 yards
Without any sort of preseason action, a limited offseason and just 14 games started in 2020, Jefferson had a historic rookie campaign, breaking the rookie record with 1,400 receiving yards. Racking up massive 125 targets with his already elite running chops, it was amazing to see such explosiveness emerge from the Vikings’ passing game seemingly out of nowhere.
Heading into Year 2 with a full offseason to create more chemistry with Cousins, and Adam Thielen not rejuvenating, Jefferson will demand even more volume as he continues to improve as a player. His road running ability and sense of defenses are truly scarce, and with a full season of NFL cover reading experience under his belt, he will be able to exceed expectations once again.
Prediction: 140 targets, 100 receptions, 1530 yards, 8 TDs
1. Vikings are upset in the playoffs
NFC North is bursting with talent this year, as the Bears have an exciting rookie Justin Fields set to lead a loaded skill pool, and the Packers retain much of their 13-3 roster from 2020.
The Vikings will have to fight these two and other Wild Card contenders across the NFC, but they arguably have more potential on both sides of the ball than any of the season’s non-division winners. last. Add in experienced coaches, wise leadership in Kirk Cousins and a ground game designed for winter football, and the Vikings should be able to find a place in the playoffs. Much like their Miracle in Minnesota and their overtime thriller against the Saints in 2019, they will be able to cause an upheaval in 2021, but will not live up to the championship.