While many in the national media have jumped on the Chicago Bears bandwagon, The Sporting News not only likes the Vikings to repeat as NFC North Champions but also earn a playoff bye. But it's not all good news.
Another national publication has weighed in on the 2009 NFL and, even without Brett Favre
as of yet in the mix, The Sporting News
is picking the Vikings to repeat as NFC North champions.
The prediction is actually a "good news, bad news" scenario. The Vikings are picked to win the NFC North with a record of 11-5. TSN picks two teams from the NFC North to make the playoffs, but for all of those other national prognosticators who have jumped on the Chicago bandwagon, it isn't the Bears that are drawing TSN's interest. It's the Packers.
Green Bay is projected to finish second in the division with a 10-6 record and nailing down the second wild-card spot. The Bears are projected to finish 9-7, followed by the Lions at 4-12.
So impressed is TSN with the Vikings that it is projecting them to lock down the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs, joining the 12-4 New York Giants as the teams that will enjoy bye weeks. The Vikings are predicted to finish with the same 11-5 records as Arizona and Atlanta, but were given the nod for the playoff bye week.
That's the good news. The bad news is that TSN is all over the Falcons making a deep playoff run at the expense of the NFC North. The playoff picks have Atlanta beating Green Bay and Philadelphia upsetting Arizona at home. That sends Atlanta to play the Vikings at the Metrodome, where TSN picks Atlanta to pull off the upset. That ought to sting Vikings fans who remember 1998.
For the record, the Giants are predicted to win the Super Bowl over New England, but it's interesting to see that one of the more respected names in sports coverage is backing the Vikings in their quest to return to the Super Bowl for the first time in 33 years.
Ryan Longwell has the opportunity to move way up the career scoring charts in 2009. He will enter the season 22nd on the all-time scoring list with 1,370 points. In 2008, he surpassed kicking legend Lou Groza and former Viking Fred Cox into 22nd place. With 11 points, he moves past Jim Bakken and with 13 points, he'll move into 20th place by passing Mark Moseley. With 107 points, he could vault all the way to 15th place, passing Jeff Wilkins (1,416), Matt Bahr (1,422), Jim Turner (1,439), Pat Leahy (1,470) and Steve Christie (1,476), which could make 2009 an eventful season for Longwell.
Even more impressive will be Peyton Manning's ascent up the passing charts. Manning has 45,628 career passing yards, good enough for seventh on the all-time list. If he throws for his career average of 4,500 yards, he will surpass 50,000 career yards and move into fourth place, passing Vinny Testaverde (46,233), Fran Tarkenton (47,003) and Warren Moon (49,325). It would leave him behind only Favre (65,127), Dan Marino (61,361) and John Elway (51,475).
If Favre comes to the Vikings, the franchise will have three of the current top five quarterbacks in career passing yards that have played for the team – Favre, Moon and Tarkenton.