For much of the Mike Zimmer era, the hallmark of the Minnesota Vikings has been a defense that has stifled opponents and given the team an opportunity to win if the offense can do just enough. Last season, however, we saw a shift in that, as the offense was expected to carry the team as the defense retooled itself following significant losses.
While the defense should be significantly better in 2021 for the purple, the offense is projected to remain one of the best in the NFL by the league’s official website. Cynthia Frelund projected the teams that she expects to have the top offenses in the NFL for the upcoming season, and she has the Vikings checking in at #8. Here’s what she has to say about them:
Don’t sleep on the Vikings this season. The addition of Christian Darrisaw with the No. 23 pick last month addressed a real problem that matters for this style of offense and how Kirk Cousins executes it. Minnesota ranked 23rd last season when it came to its rate of sacks per pass attempt (7.6%). Basically, when defenses had a good sense the Vikings were passing, pressure increased and Minnesota’s efficiency went down. One way to see this is that the Vikings ranked 16th on third down (40.9 percent conversation rate) despite having the third-most earned first downs per game (23.9). With a rushing average of 4.9 yards per attempt (fourth in the NFL) and a passing figure of 8.3 yards per attempt (second), the Vikes were creating the right opportunities and making the most of them, just not keeping the sequencing efficient enough.
Fantasy side note: Justin Jefferson, who scored seven touchdowns in a prolific rookie season, hits paydirt nine-plus times in 58.9 percent of simulations.
The Vikings’ skill position players are very good, with Cousins, Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and Dalvin Cook all continuing to be solid at their respective positions. If Darrisaw (and, presumably, Wyatt Davis) can help add stability to the offensive line and someone can emerge as a more reliable third receiving option, whether that’s Irv Smith Jr. or one of the team’s other wide receivers, this should be a very dangerous offense this season.
Of the top ten teams on Frelund’s list, the Vikings will only see a handful of them this season. They face the Arizona Cardinals (#9), the Cleveland Browns (#7), the Dallas Cowboys (#4), and the Green Bay Packers (#3*), but the rest of their opponents for this year fall outside of the top ten of these rankings.
It’s going to be interesting to see what kind of steps forward the Vikings’ offense takes this year under the watchful eye of Klint Kubiak. But, at least for now, the expectation is there that they are going to continue to put a significant number of points on the board in 2021.