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Polarizing Vikings Must Overcome Internal Drama to Return to Playoffs

Ask any fan of the Minnesota Vikings you know and they’ll tell you it isn’t easy cheering for the purple and gold.

At the beginning of training camp in 2016 the Vikes were perceived as a legitimate Super Bowl contender, but a decimating preseason leg injury to starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw a wrench into those plans. The team traded for Sam Bradford to fill the void under center and things were rosy for a while. Minny roared out of the gate to the tune of five straight wins but proceeded to go 3-8 the rest of the way and missed the playoffs altogether.

Blair Walsh was never able to get the brutal 27-yard field-goal miss from the previous playoffs out of his head and was cut as a result. Adrian Peterson went down with a knee injury in Week 2 and missed the majority of the campaign. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner abruptly quit in the middle of the season.

Head coach Mike Zimmer underwent a litany of eye surgeries, an issue that’s still plaguing the bench boss. The abhorrent offensive line collapsed far too regularly, creating headaches for Bradford in the pocket time and time again.

No one is mentioning the Vikings in the same sentence as Super Bowl this year, but what can bettors expect to see from them in 2017? Here’s my Vikings betting preview:

Super Bowl +4000

Bovada has tabbed Minnesota with the 16th-best odds to win the title this year, and that’s a pretty fair number for this squad. There aren’t many squads in the NFL that are tougher to predict than the Vikings right now. If things go right and they resemble the team from Weeks 1-5 last year, they’ll be a contender.

If they play like they did for the latter portion of 2016, they’ll be an afterthought. There are too many variables with the Vikings to make them a reliable long-shot futures bet, so you’re better off looking elsewhere for value.

OVER/UNDER win total - 8.5

This is another number that makes sense, as oddsmakers are clearly expecting this to be a middle-of-the-road club. This franchise has been all over the map lately, evidenced by the Vikings going 3-13, 10-6, 5-10-1, 7-9, 11-5 and 8-8 in the last six years. Yikes. For some reason, the Vikings seem to stay good for too long. Maybe I’ll eat my words at the end of the year, but I’m comfortable backing the UNDER here.

Odds to make the playoffs +160

With the Green Bay Packers projecting to be the top team in the NFC North, Vikings fans would be more than happy with a wild-card berth in 2017. Sportsbooks aren’t expecting it to happen, however, as Minnesota is -200 to miss the postseason altogether. Considering their penchant for following up disappointing seasons with solid ones, it wouldn’t be the biggest shock to see the Vikings sneak into the playoffs.

Offensive rookie of the year – Dalvin Cook +900

With the Peterson era in Minnesota officially over, the Vikes turned the page by drafting standout Florida State running back Dalvin Cook in the second round of the 2017 NFL draft. If you’re not aware of him, you will be soon.

The offensive line is improved from a year ago and Bradford isn’t a quarterback who’s going to strike a lot of fear into the heart of opposing teams, so Cook is going to have plenty of opportunity to make a splash as a rookie. Fellow running backs Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey are ahead of him in the odds list, but +900 is an appealing price for the talented 22-year-old.

2017 Minnesota Vikings Futures Odds
Super Bowl+4000
NFC Championship+1600
NFC North+325
Win Total8.5

Odds as of August 29 at Bovada