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Lunch Break, June 10: Vikings among NFC 'Teams to Watch'

There have been 300 playoff spots awaiting NFL teams after the past 25 NFL seasons, and 142 (47.3 percent) of the slots have been claimed by teams that didn't make the previous postseason.

Each regular season in that timeframe has concluded with at least four teams that weren't in the playoffs the previous year. The Vikings most recently were part of that group in 2012 and are working to return to the playoffs after a 7-9 campaign in 2014.

In writing "Five NFC teams to watch that missed the 2014 Playoffs" for the nationalfootballpost.com, Danny Shimon listed the Vikings as a team he can see making a run at the postseason this year.

Shimon likes the return of Adrian Peterson to the lineup, the additions of veterans Mike Wallace and Terence Newman and the selections of Trae Waynes and Eric Kendricks in the 2015 NFL Draft. He also liked the way the Vikings played in the final stretch of 2014, developing under first-time Head Coach Mike Zimmer and with rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who enters this season as the unquestioned starter.

Shimon wrote:

Mike* Zimmer has been a well-respected assistant coach in the NFL, and it was only a matter of time before he would become a head coach. He is a tough, hard-nosed, no nonsense type of coach, and you saw this team develop and take on the personality of their coach. *

While Peterson and Wallace are likely to help Bridgewater and the Vikings offense, Shimon was more bullish on Minnesota's defense:

View images from the eighth of ten OTA's.

Last season the Vikings finished 14th in total defense overall (7th versus the pass, and 25th versus the rush). With the additions of Trae Waynes at CB and Eric Kendricks at LB, to go along with the added development of last year's first round pick, Anthony Barr, the Vikings are building a good, young core on defense. Sharrif Floyd, Linval Joseph, Brian Robison, and Everson Griffen give them a solid defensive line.

Three of the other four NFC teams highlighted by Shimon are on the Vikings schedule in 2015: Rams (Nov. 8), Bears (Nov. 1 in Chicago; Dec. 20 at home) and Falcons (Nov. 29).

Camp challenges:

There's still more than a month until the Vikings report for their 50th training camp at Minnesota State University, Mankato, but John Holler of Viking Update took an early look at how the roster might be reduced from 90 players to 53 by the start of the season.

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