Can one player make a huge difference in the fortunes of the Vikings?
Apparently, the answer to that question is "yes" – at least in the opinion of The Sporting News.
In its annual NFL Preview, the magazine not only picks the Vikings to win the NFC North, but in a rare act of lunacy, the publication predicts every game during the 2009 regular season. If their prognostications are correct, the Vikings will storm out of the gate and fade late.
The Vikings are projected to go 11-5, but how they get there is at question. According to TSN, the Vikings will start the season 6-0 and, heading into December, will have a record of 10-1. However, despite the strong start, the Vikings are projected to lose four of their final five games, losing home field advantage to the Giants in the final game of the regular season.
With all the hype that has surrounded the Bears, the magazine not only predicts Chicago to miss the playoffs, but picks them to finish third in the NFC North with a 9-7 record – two games behind the Vikings and a game behind Green Bay.
In a sidebar, former 49ers and Lions head coach Steve Mariucci picks the "All-Division Team," a list that includes 11 Vikings – Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson, Steve Hutchinson and Bryant McKinnie on offense, Jared Allen, Pat Williams, Kevin Williams, Antoine Winfield and Madieu Williams on defense, and Ryan Longwell and Percy Harvin on special teams.
Will the projections come to pass? Quite possibly, but it's hard to imagine that the Vikings will charge from the gate at 10-1 only to wheeze their way down the stretch by losing to the Cardinals, Panthers, Bears and Giants in the season's final month.
If nothing else, the magazine preview echoes the sentiment that many fans have about the 2009 Vikings – that the addition of Favre will propel them to a division title. Yet, the projected late-season collapse doesn't bode well. If it plays out as predicted, the Vikings will have plenty to be positive about, but will have a playoff date once again with the Philadelphia Eagles and, by TSN's estimation, will lose to Philly at home for the second straight year in the playoffs.
Vikings fans can take away a lot of positives from the predictions for the 2009 season, but the finish won't be to their liking as much as the start.
TSN prediction: Vikings start strong, fade
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