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Lunchbreak: NFL Experts Divided on Week 1 Vikings-49ers Predictions

Posted Apr 23, 2018

The Vikings will open their season at U.S. Bank Stadium for the second year in a row.

Minnesota will host San Francisco at noon (CT) in Week 1. The 49ers are led by quarterback by Jimmy Garoppolo, who went 5-0 as a starter to finish off the 2017 season.

So, will Garoppolo and the Niners get their first loss at the hands of Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer’s defense?

NFL.com experts weighed in on the question recently, and three of five predicted a Vikings win to jumpstart the 2018 season. James Jones wrote:

I don’t see San Francisco going home from Minnesota in Week 1 with a win. Unfortunately for the 49ers, the Vikings boast the best defense from 2017, and defenses are normally 17 steps ahead of offenses anyway at the start of the season. Sorry, Jimmy.

Marcas Grant said that San Francisco will fall “victim to a Vikings team with Super Bowl aspirations.”

Well, Jimmy, you had a good run. The run as an undefeated starter (the 49ers even won the pre-draft coin flip against the Raiders!) isn't likely to last through Week 1 when San Francisco heads to Minneapolis to face the Vikings. The Niners have the makings of an improved team, but taking on a Super Bowl contender trying to erase the unpleasant taste of last year's NFC Championship Game loss isn't going to be easy.

Finally, Maurice Jones-Drew anticipates Zimmer’s defense to “stop Garoppolo in his tracks.”

The winning streak is over for Jimmy G before the season even really starts, as he’ll suffer his first loss in Week 1 in Minnesota. Jimmy G and the 49ers won’t get by a Minnesota defense that ranked No. 1 overall and second against both the run and pass. Playing against Mike Zimmer's defense in U.S. Bank Stadium ... need I say more?

NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks predicted that the 49ers won’t get their first loss until Week 4, and Adam Rank expects San Francisco to win its first two games against the Vikings and Lions before losing to the Chiefs Week 3.

Goessling: Vikings could have ‘several options’ at No. 30

A handful of analysts have pointed out over the past several weeks that this year’s NFL Draft class is quarterback-heavy, and that theme benefits teams that need – and don’t need – quarterbacks alike.

Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune referenced the 1999 NFL Draft, in which five signal callers were snagged in the first round, and said the 2018 Draft likely will be remembered as “a confluence of promising quarterback prospects and QB-needy teams that happens once in a generation or so.”

The Vikings signed Kirk Cousins in free agency and traded with the Broncos to acquire Trevor Siemian as Cousins’ backup. Because they won’t be a team vying for a quarterback, they could have more to pick from at their slated No. 30 spot. Goessling wrote:

And while teams at the top of the draft go over their QB rankings for the seventh or eighth time, the Vikings find themselves in a rare position in their history. After drafting two first-round QBs in the past six years (and shipping another first-rounder to Philadelphia for a third), they are picking 30th overall with no need for a quarterback after making Kirk Cousins the highest-paid passer in the NFL last month. So while the passers at the top of the draft make headlines, the Vikings can fill one of their other needs from a group of players that should offer them several options.

Goessling said the Vikings are in a unique spot. He quoted NFL.com’s Brooks, who said we could “see a lot of good position players come off the board that are perennial Pro Bowlers that come off later because the teams have come up to get their quarterback.”

Goessling pointed out that the Vikings could benefit from the above scenario at No. 30, or “it could also help them if a team is itching to get back into the first round for a QB.” He referenced ESPN analyst Todd McShay, who said the following:

“If they think they’re going to get the same type of player at, let’s say, [No.] 35 or 38, that they could get at [30], you take even a bad deal to move back a few spots, get the same player and take advantage of a team wanting to move up.”

Thielen, Diggs in top 50 of NFLPA’s year-end jersey sales

The NFLPA releases the “Top 50 Player Sales List” quarterly, basing the list on “overall sales of all NFL player-licensed products via online and traditional retail outlets.”

In the most-recent ranking, two Vikings players made the top 50 – wide receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs ranked No. 21 and 32, respectively.

Patriots QB Tom Brady topped the list, followed by Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, Eagles QB Carson Wentz, Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott and Steelers WR Antonio Brown. Of the top 50, five were part of the Super Bowl LII-champion Eagles roster.

How about the rest of the NFC North? All three quarterbacks were included: Lions QB Matthew Stafford was No. 24, Bears QB Mitch Trubisky was No. 37 and Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was No. 6. The Packers had two other players also on the list: LB Clay Matthews (44) and WR Jordy Nelson (31), who recently signed with the Raiders in free agency.