This is the sort of thing that gets pinned up on the locker room wall. Last season, the Vikings were a playoff team with a 10-6 record, including a win over the Green Bay Packers in week 17 that clinched the playoff berth. Early betting lines from Las Vegas have them favoured to win only five of the first 15 games of the season:
Week 1: Vikings are 2-1/2-point underdogs at Lions.
Week 2: Vikings are 2-1/2-point underdogs at Bears.
Week 3: Vikings are 6-1/2-point favorites vs. Browns.
Week 4: Vikings are 1-1/2-point underdogs vs. Steelers (in London).
Week 5: Vikings bye week.
Week 6: Vikings are 2-1/2-point favorites vs. Panthers.
Week 7: Vikings are 3-point underdogs at Giants.
Week 8: Vikings are 1-point underdogs vs. Packers.
Week 9: Vikings are 1-1/2-point underdogs at Cowboys.
Week 10: Vikings are 1-1/2-point favorites vs. Redskins.
Week 11: Vikings are 6-point underdogs at Seahawks.
Week 12: Vikings are 4-1/2-point underdogs at Packers.
Week 13: Vikings are 1-1/2-point favorites vs. Bears.
Week 14: Vikings are 3-1/2-point underdogs at Ravens.
Week 15: Vikings are 3-1/2-point favorites vs. Eagles.
Week 16: Vikings are 2-1/2-point underdogs at Bengals.
The Cantor folks did not issue early lines on Week 17, mostly because they have NO idea which players will be sitting out that week in anticipation of the playoffs. So your guess is as good as theirs who will be favored when the Vikings play host to the Lions on Dec. 29.
I’m not saying that going into the final week of the 2013 season at 5-10 is impossible, but if it gets that bad, Rick Spielman, Leslie Frazier and company will all be polishing their resumés because they won’t be back for the 2014 season. A result like that would pretty much require all of the following conditions to be met: Adrian Peterson has a career-worst year, Christian Ponder has a similarly bad year, none of the three 2013 first round picks turns out to be NFL-quality at their draft position, and Greg Jennings turns out to be too old and frail to play football any more.