If you've never heard of What If Sports, you really should check them out. They're a magical, wonderful place that run simulations of football seasons, baseball seasons, and so forth, as well as allowing you to do your own fictional matchups between great teams of the past in different sports. They even have full-blown fantasy leagues if you want to pony up the cash.
But, the reason I want to highlight them in this case is because they're simulating the 2008 NFL season, division by division, and they've finally gotten to the NFC North. What do the powers that be over there think is in store for the Vikings in 2008? A lot of good things, from the looks of it.
Minnesota Vikings (11-5)
In 2008, they may not be as good as historically great defenses such as that of the 1985 Bears or 2000 Ravens, the Vikings figure to have the best defense in the NFL. Jared Allen is the perfect addition to this team. He should benefit by a strong interior defense (and vice versa). The expected wins keep creeping higher despite the questions at quarterback, but whomever the Vikings ultimately settle on as the answer to those questions could mean plus or minus a few wins. The Vikings average 25.3 points per game (#9 in the NFL) and allow 18.1 points (#1) against a schedule featuring seven games against 2007 playoff teams.
I've said all off-season that, barring a rash of injuries, the Vikings are a 10-6/11-5 team, and it looks like at least somebody agrees with that. This team certainly has the talent to attain that status. . .it's just a matter of them putting it all together. Is there a reason to think that they can't or won't? I don't think so. . .but, then again, I'm incredibly biased.
If you read the article, you can see that the WhatIfSports folks love our defense and our running game, so their selection for our most exploitable weakness is a pretty obvious one:
Most Exploitable Weakness: Passing Game - Not only has this been a theme for the Vikings since Randy Moss left, it will be a theme this year in the division. The team seems confident in Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback, and Bernard Berrian was a great pickup, so this phase will be improved. Jackson has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns and his career 58.1% completion rate is not spectacular. Plus, with the best defense and rushing attack in the league and a very strong special teams, the passing game would have to be on par with that of the Colts or Patriots not to be mentioned here.
Yep, the Minnesota offense is to rushing attacks what the Colts and Patriots are to passing attacks. Of course, we knew that already.
How "weak" do they project the passing game to be? Well, considering that they project Tarvaris Jackson to have a 19/14 TD-to-INT ratio and project Bernard Berrian to have 1,160 receiving yards, it doesn't seem terribly weak at all. And that's the way. . .uh huh, uh huh. . .we like it.
Uh huh, uh huh.
Jackson's 19/14 TD-to-INT ratio is a better projection than the other 3 QBs projected for the division. Aaron Rodgers is projected at a 17/11 ratio, Jon Kitna is projected to have 16/12, and the abomination of Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman is projected to have a combined 19/17 ratio.
As far as projections go, this one looks to be pretty favorable towards the Beloved Purple. I'm sure that many of you out there will feel the same. Feel free to discuss it here.