ESPN seems to have two feet squarely on the Vikings' bandwagon this year, or at least their NFL analysts on "NFL Live" think the team will be a shoo-in to win the NFC North division and has the star players to go with the team accomplishments.
In the show's review of each division, the analysts dished out their preseason honors for individual efforts as they see the season unfolding and finally end with their prediction for the division winner. The show's two analysts, former quarterback Sean Salisbury and former guard Mark Schlereth, each picked the Vikings to win the division, and neither showed hesitation. Salisbury, the former Vikings QB who isn't afraid to be critical of the Vikings or any other team, said Minnesota's lead in the division at the end of the year wouldn't even be close. Schelereth said the Vikings would win the division in a "runaway, runaway, runaway."
The Vikings also dominated the individual preseason honors in the first few categories.
Schlereth and Salisbury each picked quarterback Daunte Culpepper as the best player in the division and didn't see much of a problem with receiver Randy Moss being gone. They said the torch has been passed from Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre to Culpepper.
In the improved newcomer category, Schlereth gave the nod to rookie wide receiver Troy Williamson while Salisbury picked nose tackle Pat Williams. Nate Burleson received the final positive mention of the Vikings as Salisbury's pick for player on the rise. Schlereth picked Detroit running back Kevin Jones in that category.
Green Bay secured the stranglehold in the "Player on the Decline" category. Schlereth named Packers defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and Salisbury named Favre in that designation.
For most underrated player in the division, Schlereth picked cornerback Charles Tillman of the Bears while Salisbury selected Green Bay receiver Donald Driver.
The Vikings did get one final individual mention, but this time it was as positive. Salisbury named running back Michael Bennett the most overrated player in the division while Schlereth picked Packers cornerback Al Harris.
Injuries or not, it seems the Vikings are a still a preseason favorite in the eyes of the national media.
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