Monday, May 16, 2022

2021-22 Minnesota Vikings Record and Season Award Predictions

Since the 2021-22 season is less than four months away combined with the NFL annual schedule release, I always like to take a look at teams I am interested in and predict wins, losses, and who I believe will be Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Rookie of the Year for each given team. 

Obviously since we are all SKOL Nation, it is only right to take a deep dive into my predictions for the Vikings. 

Before we begin it must be noted that I am a bit of a pessimist when it comes to Vikings football. While I will always support my boys until I die, it is hard to be optimistic after dealing with literal decades of heartbreak, even before my time on Earth. However, with massive front office changes and exciting young players in a weaker NFC this year, it is hard to not get excited :)

*I will also only be writing a description for games that I feel need some extra emphasis or explanation. 

Week 1: Green Bay Packers - WIN

While this one feels too good to be true, I am starting the Vikings at 1-0. The combination of being at home, Week 1, with a brand-new regime and newly found energy in the staff and players, against our biggest rival feels like the perfect storm for a massive win against the Pack. Expect this game to be loud and for the fans to show out in numbers for this one regardless of the outcome. 

Week 2: Philadelphia Eagles - LOSS

Week 3: Detroit Lions - LOSS

Week 4: New Orleans Saints - WIN

Starting the season 1-2, despite sloppy play thus far and an ugly loss to the Eagles in Week 2, this game in London is where the Vikings begin to hit their stride. They destroy the Saints overseas and Coach O'Connell finally starts to put together some impressive looking wins. I have a hunch since Jettas didn't get the opportunity to put up an incredible performance in his in-home state of Louisiana, London will just have to do. 

Week 5: Chicago Bears - WIN

Week 6: Miami Dolphins - WIN 

Week 7: BYE

The Vikings are scorching hot going into the BYE week, coming off of three back-to-back-to-back wins. Things are looking very good for the Vikings, sitting atop the division at 4-2 with Justin Jefferson looking to build on his case for NFL Offensive Player of the Year. 

Week 8: Arizona Cardinals - LOSS

The Vikings aren't able to enact their revenge from last year's devastating loss to the Cardinals and lose in ugly fashion to a fresh-legged Deandre Hopkins coming just one game off a suspension. The team sits at 4-3, but still first in the division thanks to that Week 1 win against the Packers. 

Week 9: Washington Commanders - WIN 

Week 10: Buffalo Bills - LOSS

Week 11: Dallas Cowboys - LOSS

This game actually was played very well from both squads, unlike last year's Cooper Rush vs Kirk stinker. Both teams fight hard but ultimately the Cowboys best our Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Vikings sit at 5-5 and are still on top the division. 

Week 12: New England Patriots - WIN 

Week 13: New York Jets - WIN 

Week 14: Detroit Lions - WIN 

The team gets their payback for the Week 3 loss in impressive fashion after a nice stretch of play from Weeks 12 and 13. Vikings are 8-5 and Justin Jefferson is running away with the OPTY at this point. 

Week 15: Indianapolis Colts - WIN

Week 16: New York Giants - WIN 

Week 17: Green Bay Packers - LOSS

Expecting to sweep the Packers is unlikely as it is. When you factor in you have to play at Lambeau in early January, against Rodgers, in freezing temperatures, it doesn't help. Thankfully for the Vikings they are still on top of the division and only need a Week 18 win at Soldier Field in Chicago to secure the North. The Vikings currently sit at 10-6 with one game left in the season. 

Week 18: Chicago Bears - WIN 

It's hard to beat a team twice in the same season, but this Bears team does not scare me in the slightest - even if we have to play at Soldier Field in January. Vikings secure the NFC North with a big win over the Bears. 

FINAL Record: 
1st in NFC North

This is my realistic prediction for the team in 2021-22. I also see two worlds - one where Vikings exceed expectations, and one where they fail to meet expectations. Because of this, I believe the ceiling for this team is 13-4, while the floor is 8-9. 

Team Awards: 

Offensive Player of the Year: Justin Jefferson

No surprise here, the best receiver in the NFL wins OPTY after a record-breaking season. Not only does JJ win the Vikings Offensive Player of the Year, but he is also the NFL Offensive Player of the Year as well. With Justin Jefferson playing in the Cooper Kupp role this year within the new KOC offense, we can fully expect him to get his. I predict JJ ends the season with the following stat line:

- 127 Receptions
- 1,885 Yards
- 16 TDs

Defensive Player of the Year: Za'Darius Smith

I went back and forth deciding who should get this nod: Za'darius or Danielle Hunter, but ultimately, I landed on Big Z as the more underrated pick. After missing almost all of 2021 due to injury, Za'darius came back like he never left. Za'darius posts 13.5 sacks, tying his career high, while was collectively a member of the NFLs best front seven in 2021. 

Rookie of the Year: Lewis Cine

I also had trouble making this pick because I truly believe that Andrew Booth Jr. will emerge as the #1 CB in the Vikings secondary, but again, I ultimately went with first-round selection, Lewis Cine. 
Cine brings a spark to a mostly young and inexperienced secondary and has the opportunity to immedietly make an impact. Not to mention that Cine has the biggest room for error with Harrison Smith and Cam Bynum to make up for his potential mishaps in the field of play. This truly gives Cine full opportunity to play to his strengths: downhill tackler with an aggressive mindset. 

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