The Early Returns Say...

As the NFL concludes its long, dormant weekend, a top trade publication has become the first to speak its peace on the Vikings for 2005.

There was little doubt that the numerous offseason moves made by the Vikings were going to make some believers, but, if the first precinct heard from this offseason means anything, fans should be very happy.

Pro Football Weekly, which historically has been pro-Bears and anti-Vikings, has raised the expectations bar pretty high. PFW's 2005 NFL preview projects the Vikings to finish 12-4 this season -- tied with the Eagles for the NFC's best record and behind only the Colts (who are predicted to go 13-3).

While PFW refuses to get off the Eagles bandwagon -- it has Philly beating the Colts in Super Bowl XL -- the publication has the Vikings dominating the NFC North. According to the predictions, the Vikings will finish four games ahead of the 8-8 Lions and Packers and seven games ahead of the hometown Bears.

As other publications make their picks, VU will pass them along, but, if the early returns mean anything, the changes the Vikings executed have made some of the experts perk their ears up and take notice.

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