You know, every year I say that these magazines keep coming out earlier and earlier, and every year people laugh. Well, it's the second day of June, and I'm already sitting here holding the first NFL Preview magazine of the year in my hands.
Seriously, this is getting out of control.
In any event, this preview issue is brought to you by Yahoo! Sports and Pro Football Weekly. I'm sure that many of the covers will have players specific to a particular part of the country. Here in Mississippi, however, the version the local Books-a-Million was carrying has Steven Jackson of the St. Louis Rams, Kansas City Chiefs' WR Dwayne Bowe, and Indianapolis QB Peyton Manning on the cover. Ah, well, in order to get one's football fix, one has to be prepared to sacrifice such niceties, I guess.
So what do Yahoo! and PFW think of the Vikings' chances for 2009? Well, let's take a closer look.
The magazine shows the NFC North as being a log jam this year, with the Bears and Vikings both predicted to finish with identical 9-7 records, the Packers projected to finish 8-8, and the Lions bringing up the read with a 3-13 mark. For reasons I'm not entirely sure of, they've given the Bears the nod for the division title over the Beloved Purple. Yeah, I don't understand it, either.
The folks at Yahoo! and PFW have ranked the teams with a letter grade at all the major positions. Let's take a look at how the teams stack up when compared to one another. Here they are in predicted order of finish:
|Green Bay (8-8)||B||B-||A-||C+||C||B||A-||B-|
Well, that's certainly a bit curious. The Vikings grade out higher than the Bears at six of the eight rated positions. . .yet Yahoo! and PFW say the Bears are going to win the NFC North. They really must put a lot of stock in Jay Cutler's ability. . .which is also a bit curious, considering how pathetic he and the Denver Broncos looked down the stretch in 2008. Oh, and in the "tell us something we didn't already know" department, the Vikings have the best running backs, offensive line, and defensive line in the NFC North. Shocking.
This particular magazine also ranks players by position, as well as a Top 50 overall players in the NFL ranking. The Vikings have three players in the overall Top 50, according to this list, and they're all found in the upper half of the list. Running back Adrian Peterson comes in at #7, DE Jared Allen is just behind at #9, and DT Kevin Williams checks in at #17. As far as the position-by-position rankings, here's how the Vikings fared:
QB - Sage Rosenfels #25
RB - Adrian Peterson #1, Chester Taylor #28
TE - Visanthe Shiancoe #14
WR - None listed. (Amazing little note. . .Devin Hester merits a mention on the list as a "Top Veteran Prospect." Bernard Berrian, who is a better receiver than Hester in every measurable and meaningful way? Not mentioned at all. Seriously. I'm not kidding.)
C - None listed. (Matt Birk came in at #10.)
G - Steve Hutchinson #1
OT - Bryant McKinnie #12
DE - Jared Allen #1
DT - Kevin Williams #2, Pat Williams #9
ILB - E.J. Henderson #22 (you'll have a hard time convincing me that there are 21 ILBs in the NFL that are better than #56, but hey. . .there it is.)
OLB - Chad Greenway #9 (with exactly the same "grade" of 3.75 as Lance Briggs, who inexplicably gets way more ink than Greenway does).
CB - Antoine Winfield #8, Cedric Griffin mentioned as a "Top Veteran Prospect"
S - Madieu Williams #18
Also not surprisingly, Adrian Peterson is the consensus #1 pick in any fantasy football draft. Again, the word "duh" comes to mind.
So there you have it. . .the first NFL preview issue of the year is out there even more obscenely early than the ones that came out first last season. What do you think of what the folks at Yahoo! and PFW have put out there?