Yes, I've finally acquired another NFL preview magazine for the 2009 season, and since it doesn't talk about Brett Favre, Pat and Kevin Williams looming suspensions, or unnecessary panicking over Percy Harvin's well-being, that makes it a damn fine topic for discussion on this Sunday evening, as far as I'm concerned. With the Favre signing likely to be announced next week and Training Camp kicking off the week after that, the news will hopefully be picking up here in short order. For now, though, let's take a look at what the folks at Athlon Sports have to say about the Vikings' prospects for 2009.
The first mention of the Vikings in the issue doesn't come with their team preview. Rather, in their "Extra Points" section, they re-visit last year's Monday Night clash between the Beloved Purple and the New Orleans Saints and, more specifically, why it was one of the craziest games the NFL has seen in a long time. I won't list all 11 of their reasons, but here are a couple we'll appreciate:
1) It was the first game in NFL history with two punt return touchdowns, two 50-yard field goals, a TD pass by a non-quarterback (Chester Taylor), and a blocked field goal returned for a TD.
2) Vikings' cornerback Antoine Winfield was the first player ever to score on a blocked field goal, cause a fumble, recover a fumble, and record a sack in the same game.
6) (Bernard) Berrian's 110 yards ended the NFL's longest active streak (34 games) for a team having neither a 300-yard passer nor a 100-yard receiver.
10) New Orleans lost despite having 11 more rushing yards, 94 more passing yards, and 236 more return yards.
Man. . .that game needs to be on NFL Network sometime in the near future. . .you know, if they can stop showing re-runs of the 1998 NFC Championship game long enough to play it.
On to the 2009 Vikings, Athlon has four Vikings on their pre-season All-NFC team. Those four are Adrian Peterson (duh), Steve Hutchinson (duh again), Jared Allen (see Steve Hutchinson) and, surprisingly, Antoine Winfield. The other three NFC North teams combined for two. I'd mention who they were, but really. . .who cares? They also labeled Percy Harvin as the biggest reach of the draft by an NFC team. They'll probably be taking that back right around 1 November.
As far as the standings are concerned, Athlon has the Vikings ranked 9th. They somehow listed eight teams ahead of Minnesota, at least half of whom have no business being where they are. The teams listed ahead of Minnesota are, in order: Philadelphia, New York, Arizona, Atlanta, Chicago (please), New Orleans (hardly), Dallas (not unless the season ends at Thanksgiving), and Green Bay (BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA). That means they have Minnesota finishing third in the NFC North, despite an off-season where the team did nothing but improve. Of course, they're not taking a potential Favre signing into account, either.
Unfortunately, they don't assign letter grades to the different positions like Pro Football Weekly did and a couple of other preview magazines do. But, the story is pretty much the same. . .great running game, outstanding defense, big question mark at quarterback, yadda yadda yadda.
Athlon also includes a fantasy section in the back of the magazine with the standard positional rankings. Here are where different members of the Beloved Purple rank by position:
Quarterbacks: Sage Rosenfels #23 (Brett Favre not listed)
Running Backs: Adrian Peterson #2 (behind Michael Turner. . .yeah, I don't get it, either), Chester Taylor #43
Wide Receivers: Bernard Berrian #16, Sidney Rice #50
Tight Ends: Visanthe Shiancoe #11
Kickers: Ryan Longwell #14
Defense: Minnesota #8 (yeah. . .there are allegedly seven defenses in the NFL better than Minnesota's)
The Athlon magazine is pretty well put together and has lots of color pictures and everything. I think they're way off on their football predictions, obviously, but the magazine looks nice, at least. I sure do wish I could get my $8 back, though.