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Sunday, 10 May 2015

Minnesota Vikings 2015 Schedule: Game-by-Game Predictions

Minnesota won just seven games in 2014, but it was a successful season.

In Teddy Bridgewater, who is entering his second year, the Vikings appear to have found a young franchise quarterback, something they haven't had since the days of Daunte Culpepper.

With franchise cornerstone Adrian Peterson, one of the game's top rushers, sidelined for 15 games in 2014, the Vikings had to get production from unlikely sources. Along with Bridgewater, receiver Charles Johnson and rookie running back Jerick McKinnon showed the ability to be solid producers.

In its biggest pre-draft offseason move, Minnesota landed speedy receiver Mike Wallace in a deal with the Miami Dolphins, giving up a pair of draft picks. 

The Vikings draft is being universally hailed as a success, receiving no grade lower than a B, according to most draft gurus

In all, Minnesota selected 10 players, addressing the defense with its first two picks. The Vikings nabbed cornerback Trae Waynes No. 11 overall and took inside linebacker Eric Kendricks in the second round. Both are expected to contribute immediately. Minnesota also picked up three offensive linemen and two defensive linemen.

Maybe the Vikings' best move of the offseason was one they didn't make at all. After plenty of posturing by both sides, Minnesota kept its word and didn't trade Peterson, who was rumoroed to want out of the purple and gold.

With the solid draft and a generally young roster, led by Bridgewater, the Vikings have been tabbed as a breakout pick by some. Vegas doesn't agree, putting the over/under for Minnesota wins at 6.5, less than all but six teams.

Let's go through the schedule -- a stout one with Minnesota faceing the NFC West -- game-by-game and see how things shake out.

Week 1: San Francisco 21, Minnesota 17

It's been a tumultuous offseason in San Francisco, but the 49ers begin the Jim Tomsula era with a close home win over the Vikings. 

Week 2: Detroit 27, Minnesota 24

Two weeks, two losses for the Vikings. In Minnesota's home opener, Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson get the better of Waynes and the defense. 

Week 3: Minnesota 23, San Diego 17

Bridgewater and company get their first win, knocking off the Chargers in another close game. 

Week 4: Denver 37, Minnesota 20

Going on the road to play one of the league's top teams proves too tall a task for the Vikings. Peyton Manning carves up the defense and things get ugly early in Minnesota's most lopsided loss of the season.

Week 5: Bye

Week 6: Minnesota 31, Kansas City 20

Playing their third home game in four weeks, the Vikings move to 2-3 with a win over the Chiefs. Peterson has a field day against the 2014's third-worst rushing defense.

Week 7: Detroit 34, Minnesota 23

The Vikings first two divisional games are both against the Lions and both are losses. The Lions, looking to return to the playoffs, complete the season sweep over Minnesota.

Week 8: Chicago 21, Minnesota 20

In a matchup of two fairly even teams, the edge goes to the one playing at home. In this case, that's the Bears, which drops the Vikings to 2-5.

Week 9: Minnesota 20, St. Louis 17

Featuring one of the league's top defensive lines, St. Louis gives Minnesota fits all day, but Bridgewater and Peterson make just enough plays to get the Vikings their third win.

Week 10: Oakland 27, Minnesota 21

Oakland is one of just six teams Vegas projects for less wins than Minnesota, but the Raiders get a victory here. Going by yards per carry, Oakland was a top 10 run defense in 2014, and the Raiders, playing at home, bottle up Peterson.

Week 11: Green Bay 31, Minnesota 20

A home tilt against Green Bay kicks off a rough four-game stretch for Minnesota. Much like a year ago, Minnesota plays the high-octane Packers faily even at home but can't pull out the victory, sliding to 3-7.

Week 12: Atlanta 27, Minnesota 21

The Falcons, at home in the Georgia Dome, pick up a win over the Vikings. Matt Ryan, leading an offense that threw for the fifth-most yards in 2014, carries Atlanta. 

Week 13: Seattle 27, Minnesota 13

Russell Wilson and the Legion of Boom, once again a contender for the NFC crown, stifle Minnesota, sending the Vikings to their third consecutive loss.

Week 14: Minnesota 24, Arizona 23

The Vikings avoid a four-game losing streak with an upset win against an Arizona team that comes back to the pack in 2015. The marks Minnesota's lone road win of the year and bumps the Vikings record to 4-9.

Week 15: Minnesota 28, Chicago 20

Minnesota pieces together its first winning streak of the season, knocking off the Bears in a home contest. First-year coach John Fox has Chicago playing better defense, but Bridgewater plays his best game of the season in this one.

Week 16: Minnesota 23, New York Giants 17

The Vikings make it three in a row with a home win over the Giants. New York's weak run defense, which permitted a league-worst 4.9 yards per carry a year ago, allows Peterson to run wild.

Week 17: Green Bay 31, Minnesota 17

The Vikings haven't won at Lambeau Field since 2009, and that doesn't change this season. Rodgers and the Packers clinch a first-round bye with this demolition of the Vikings, as Minnesota ends the year with a 6-10 record.


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