Count The Monday Morning Quarterback's Peter King as one who is bullish on the Vikings prospects for 2015. In this week's edition of his popular weekly column, The Monday Morning Quarterback, King unveiled his annual June 1 power rankings and he has the Vikings at No. 6.
"This is reliant on so many things. Adrian Peterson showing up number one. But finding a consistent pass-rush is key too, as is the continued maturity of Teddy Bridgewater. I pick the Vikes here because if you ask me for one rising team if two or three vital things go right, I'm picking Minnesota."
Given last year's 7-9 record, the high-flying passing offenses within the division they must contend with the acrimony surrounding Adrian Peterson, and the general disposition many have of relying on what happened last year to forecast what will happen this year, some may bristle at that ranking. But King has the Vikings pegged as a team on the rise.
Other notables from King's rankings:
-- The Baltimore Ravens are No. 1.
-- NFC North rivals are listed like this: Green Bay No. 3, Detroit No. 17 and Chicago No. 23.
-- The Vikings have 6 games against teams in King's Top 10.
Vikings a "Playoff Sleeper"
King isn't the only one projecting 2015 results early this week. CBSSports.com's Will Brinson played “over/under” with each team’s projected regular season win total in his column and he took the "over" on the Vikings projection of 7.5 wins.
"Mike Zimmer did a nice job with this roster last year and this defense could be in for a huge season. It's stacked with young, impact players at nearly every position and they added Trae Waynes and Eric Kendricks early in the draft."
Brinson loves the NFC North this year, as he has the Packers (11) and Lions (8.5) as teams set to hit the "over", as well. He predicted the Bears would be under their projection of seven wins.
Zimmer-Peterson Relationship "Appears Strong"
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer spoke with reporters last week following OTA No. 2 and was asked about the on-going Adrian Peterson situation, which of late includes his absence from voluntary workouts at Winter Park. The quote that caught everyone's attention was: "He's really got two choices: He can play for us. Or he cannot play. He's not going to play for anybody else. That's just the way it's going to be."
Taken out of context, that comment from Zimmer could come off as adversarial, confrontational and/or as an ultimatum. But if you watch the clip rather than just read it and if you dig into the details, you know that Zimmer's tone and intention was matter-of-fact and respectful.
"In fact, it's believed Peterson and Zimmer talked this week and smoothed things over following the comment, which stemmed more from Zimmer's fatigue over the topic than any effort to issue Peterson an ultimatum."
Xavier Rhodes on "Stardom's Doorstep"
Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com identified 20 breakout candidates for 2015 and has a member of the Vikings on his list. In identifying his breakout candidates, Prisco narrowed the scope to players who haven't been to a Pro Bowl but players who can get there in the next year or two.
The Viking on his list? CB Xavier Rhodes.
"Often matched against the other team's No. 1 receiver, he more than held his own last season in 16 starts. New coach Mike Zimmer made him his pet project, and it showed. He has the talent to be a top cover corner, but he improved in all other areas, including against the run. Rhodes is a legit No. 1 corner, who could be one of the league's best by the end of 2015."