Prognosticators like Vikings in NFC North

The Sporting News picked the Vikings to win the NFC North by a small margin and hailed several of the team's players as the best at their position in division.

Predictions for the 2010 season are starting to roll in and The Sporting News is the latest to trot out their predictions.

Despite putting Packers QB Aaron Rodgers on the cover, the magazine predicts the Vikings to win the NFC North for a third straight year. The Vikings are picked to finish 11-5, the same record as Green Bay, but the publication gives the Vikings the tie-breaker edge and the division crown.

While the magazine itself picks the Jets and Cowboys in the Super Bowl, in a poll of its four in-house experts, two of them have the Cowboys beating the Packers in the NFC Championship Game and the other two have the Vikings beating Dallas. Of the two that pick the Vikings to go to the Super Bowl, one has the Vikings beating the Jets and the other has the Vikings losing to Baltimore.

However, of the 32 team correspondents that voted, 20 of them picked Green Bay to win the division, while 12 picked the Vikings – none picked the Bears or Lions. Those same correspondents overwhelmingly think Rodgers is the division Offensive MVP, earning 25 votes. Of the other seven votes, five went to Adrian Peterson and two to Brett Favre. On the defensive side, Jared Allen earned 20 votes for Defensive MVP.

The success of the Vikings, however, doesn't translate to respect for Brad Childress. He received only seven votes for the division's best coach – Mike McCarthy got 23 votes and Lovie Smith somehow got two. In a related ranking of the NFL's 32 coaches, Childress ranked 14th.

The All-Division Team, picked by former Lions coach Bobby Ross, was dominated by Vikings, including Favre (over Rodgers), Peterson, Steve Hutchinson, Bryant McKinnie and Percy Harvin on offense, Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Chad Greenway and Antoine Winfield on defense and Harvin as the division's kickoff returner.

While the Vikings have some issues that need to be solved before they can begin the process of building momentum as they did last year, they have a lot more believers among those who follow the NFL.

FRIDAY NOTES

  • Harvin, who was hoping to play Saturday, sat out Thursday's practice and, if there was an injury report for the preseason, would likely be viewed as questionable or doubtful for tomorrow's game.

  • The Vikings practiced at Mall of America Field Thursday to get a feel for the new turf that has been laid on the Metrodome floor.

  • Rookie Chris Cook is expected to get the start at right cornerback Saturday, the game in which the starters see the most action of the preseason. There is a growing sentiment that, if Cook performs well in his test Saturday, he could supplant Lito Sheppard or Asher Allen in the starting lineup when the regular season begins.

  • Favre and the rest of the starters are expected to play the entire first half and, most likely, a series or two in the second half as well.

  • Some teams are already taking the third preseason game quite seriously. The Patriots played Tom Brady into the fourth quarter in their loss to the Rams.

  • If the third week of preseason games comes close to mirroring the first two played Thursday, it could be a wild weekend. The Patriots and Rams combined to score 71 points, which was dwarfed by the 83 combined points scored by the Packers and Colts.


    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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