The NFL season is off and running, as the Packers and Bears kicked off the league’s 100th season Thursday night.
The Vikings have to wait until Sunday’s season opener against Atlanta before beginning their four-month journey, but Will Brinson of CBS Sports believes 2019 will be a historic year in Minnesota.
Brinson, who recently put out his 2019 predictions while mapping out the postseason picture, has the Vikings claiming their first Super Bowl in franchise history.
Brinson has Minnesota going 13-3 to win the NFC North and earn the No. 1 seed before getting past Dallas and Carolina to reach Super Bowl LIV. He then has the Vikings getting a 30-28 victory over Pittsburgh to win the championship.
Brinson laid out why he believes the Vikings will win it all:
The NFL is celebrating 100 years and in those 100 years, the Vikings have not won a Super Bowl. They did, however, win the final NFL Championship, taking down the title in 1969, right before the merger. So it would be fitting for a historically great franchise that’s fallen just short to win the title this year. That’s not why I’m picking the Viking,s though. I'm here for the Vikings because this is a team that already has a defense capable of winning a championship.
I think the offense can be great without [Kirk] Cousins having to dominate, and I believe he'll be extremely comfortable in this situation, thanks to the presence of [Vikings Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Advisor] Gary Kubiak, whose zone-blocking scheme Cousins came up in when he was drafted by the Redskins and Mike Shanahan (Kubiak’s mentor).
Brinson believes the Vikings will rely on a relentless rushing attack to reach the pinnacle of the NFL world.
More importantly is the presence of Dalvin Cook (and also Alexander Mattison and Mike Boone, two quality backups), who I believe will post a Pro Bowl/All Pro season. Mix in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen flooding to one side of the field as Cousins boots off play-action, and you have the recipe for an offensive explosion.
Fighting their way through the playoffs won’t be easy, not with a stacked NFC and a tough matchup against the Steelers. But with that defense and an improved and more comfortable Cousins on board, the Vikings are ready to sound the horn to close the season.
As Brinson mentioned above, he expected Cook to flourish in Minnesota’s new system under Vikings Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski.
In fact, Brinson believes Cook will win the NFL rushing title in 2019.
I’ve been beating this drum all offseason long and I’m not backing off now. Cook is set up perfectly to dominate in this scheme, with the Vikings hiring Kubiak and the former Texans/Broncos coach installing his zone-blocking scheme. It's what Cook ran in college and you could see how comfortable he was with it during the preseason. [Rookie center Garrett] Bradbury operated in a zone-blocking scheme on 95+ percent of his run blocks during his final year of college. And Cousins is comfortable in this scheme too, having come into the NFL with Mike Shanahan, Kubiak's mentor. Health is a concern, sure, but Cook is set up to produce a huge season if he plays 16 games.
Cook has rushed for 969 yards and four touchdowns in 15 career games over two seasons.
‘The Athletic’ predicts 10 wins for Vikings in 2019
The days leading up to the season opener are filled with season predictions, including Brinson’s above.
And it includes the staff at The Athletic, a team of four writers who cover the Vikings in various capacities.
The group made its season projections Friday, and each of the four — Chad Graff, Arif Hasan, Jon Krawczynski and Sage Rosenfels — pegged the Vikings to go 10-6.
Graff and Krawczynski each have Minnesota winning the NFC North.
The Vikings reach double-digit wins for the second time in three years, capturing the NFC North with 10 wins, just beating out the Green Bay Packers, who still get a wild card nod, thus leaving the defending division champion Chicago Bears out of the playoffs.
I think the division is going to be a tough one this year. Detroit is improved. Chicago is staunch, and I really don’t know what to think of Green Bay yet. But the Vikings have the ingredients to get to the playoffs and win when they’re there. I picked them to go to the Super Bowl last season. I can’t go that far right now. But I think this is a team that can get to the playoffs and win a game or two.
Hasan and Rosenfels believe the Vikings will be a Wild-Card team with double-digit wins.