The Minnesota Vikings left the 2016 season with a mediocre 8 – 8 record, coming off from a relatively strong start to their season. They placed third in the NFC North division and didn’t qualify for the Playoffs. Five wins before the bye week might have gave some hope to fans of the team, but they weren’t able to translate this to any real momentum, winning only three games in the tail end of their season. The biggest let down about the whole 2016 season is that they had showed significant promise in the previous year. They won the NFC North in 2015, and those early glimpses of performance were something to behold.So, with a mediocre season been and gone, we’re left at a crossroads in terms of predicting future performance. Despite everything that happened in the previous season, what are the expert predictions for this team in 2017?

For The Win – USA Today Expert Picks for the Vikings in 2017

The familiar FTW panel of USA Today is made up of Steven Ruiz, Charles Curtis, and Luke Kerr-Dineen. Not known to mince words or hold back on opinions, the panel doesn’t see the Minnesota Vikings improving on their 2016 season, predicting an 8 – 8 for 2017.While the panel were cautiously optimistic about the team making an over for a 9 – 7, it would be dependent on having a solid defense playing as well as any of the stronger teams in the NFL. Charles Curtis cited the 2016 performance as a reason for hope, commenting that the defense could make up for an offense that had difficulty moving the ball. Kerr-Dineen believes that Mike Zimmer is a top level coach, which could mean that we are in for some surprises at best, or at least an equal to last year’s performance.

Nick Wright is Optimistic About the Season Ahead

While the For the Win panel couldn’t agree on any major improvement for the Vikings, Nick Wright from Fox Sports thinks that the team could improve their record in 2017, predicting a final result of 10 – 6, which would be a strong change. Wright believes that the Vikings can take the game and come out with wins against the Saints, Buccaneers, the Detroit Lions, the Bears, the Ravens, Panthers, Bengals, and the Rams. Losses could come from the Packers, Steelers, and the Falcons. While Wright doesn’t offer anything in the way of commentary, his optimism could prove inspirational for anyone following the season and looking to make picks on the Vikings for their 2017 games.

Ben Goessling at ESPN Tips the Minnesota Vikings to Maintain Last Season’s Record

Goessling at ESPN is another expert who doesn’t expect the Vikings to improve on their 8 – 8 record from 2016. The home games would be easier in his scenario, with an early sequence providing the opportunity for some wins. 2017 will be a good change for the team as they start the season with a home game. However, the late season will provide plenty of challenges on the road, especially when playing against the Panthers, Lions, and Falcons. Any chance of making the playoffs could be ended by these teams, which admittedly pose a threat to the middle-of-the road performing Vikings. The team will also face the Green Bay Packers in December, which is a challenge where they are unlikely to come out on top.

Sports Illustrated Continues the Prediction of a Similar Season to 2016

Jonathan Jones at Sports Illustrated does not predict the Vikings to improve upon their record in 2017, reporting an 8 – 8 record for the season. Jones mentions the strong start to last year, but also compares it to the 3 – 8 second part of the season after their bye week. It seems that this team either runs out of momentum, or simply isn’t on the level to perform once they start facing some tougher late-season competition. Week 14 will be particularly important when playing the Carolina Panthers, which could allow for a wild-card spot. In 2016, the Vikings ended the Panthers winning streak at home by taking a 22-10 victory, and while that’s no guarantee of a similar performance this year, it at least shows that it’s possible for the Vikings to pull out a special performance when it matters.

Richard Janvrin Weighs in with A Prediction That is Down on 2016’s Record

Richard Janvrin of Bleacher Report is bucking the trend of the mainstream experts, expecting the Minnesota Vikings to fall short of their 2016 record. He’s predicting the team to take an extra loss, leaving the 2017 record at just 7 – 9. Another expert that praises the start to 2016, but laments the woes of the next 11 games, Janvrin feels that the offensive line just isn’t able to keep up with the opposition. This expert even called their offensive line “awful”, noting that they seemed to have “used 18 million different combinations, and none of them were any good”. Players like Mike Remmers and Riley Reiff may change this, but there’s nothing yet to suggest that they’re going to be able to pull off performances that will significantly boost the team. Week 13 will be the toughest game, in the opinion of Janvrin. The Atlanta Falcons can outclass the Vikings in both offense and defense. The early Week 3 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will also be a real test for the Vikings, with Janvrin considering the teams to be of similar quality, which would make a win that much more valuable.The Minnesota Vikings were undefeated at the end of Week 5 in 2016, but that early performance did not translate to anything tangible by the end of the Season. The team were unable to defend their division title and the performance between their offensive and defensive game was seriously unbalanced. There isn’t a lot of expert support hinting at an improvement this year, so fans would be wise to remain conservative when it comes to expectations for the 2017 season.

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