In assessing NFC teams' free agency moves thus far, NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal said that there weren't many especially splashy moves in the conference, but teams have worked to strengthen weak areas on their rosters.
With the NFL Draft just two weeks ago, Rosenthal set up a "conference hierarchy" in which he grouped teams according to how he expects them to finish in 2017.
Rosenthal placed the Vikings in "the fat middle" category along with the Panthers, Giants, Cardinals, Buccaneers, Saints, Lions, Redskins and Eagles. He wrote:
*The difference between 6-10 and 10-6 in the NFL is overstated. All nine of the teams in this tier have the rosters to put together a playoff season or division title if everything breaks right, but even a .500 record is far from assured. *
The Cardinals probably had the worst offseason of any team here because three defensive starters left, but they have more "blue chip" talent than most. Their window shouldn't be closed. The Eagles did a stealthy job upgrading their defense in addition adding receiver threats. The Giants will have done well to keep their defensive line intact if Johnathan Hankins returns. The Panthers and Saints have the best quarterbacks of this tier, which should keep them in the mix. Carolina did a laudable job building pass-rushing depth, even if Cam Newton's surgery is a nagging worry.
Detroit and Minnesota spent the offseason trying to fix their offensive lines, with the Lions getting the better players. Tampa made two smart signings in DeSean Jackson and Chris Baker, but the roster is thinner than general manager Jason Licht would like. Fans of any of the teams above should believe they have a potential contender to root for.
In the top grouping, Rosenthal listed four teams he feels are headed directly to the playoffs: Green Bay, Seattle, Atlanta and Dallas.
The third and final category was "still rebuilding" and included the Rams, Bears and 49ers.
Alan Page featured in video series leading up to Super Bowl LII
As part of a countdown to Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis, Mpls. St. Paul Magazine and Explore Minnesota are producing a series of #MyNorth video features.
The vignettes are described as "52 love letters to Minnesota from notable Minnesotans," and among those featured thus far are Minnesota Wild's Zach Parise, Timberwolves guard Tyus Jones and comedian Louie Anderson.
Week 10's video featured Hall of Fame defensive end Alan Page. The video captures Page spending time at his family's cabin in Northern Minnesota.
"I was not necessarily an outdoor type," said Page, wearing a striped gray Vikings stocking cap. "Though, as I've gotten older, it has become more natural to want to be in a place like this where this is solitude, where there is quiet."
Page takes viewers through the process of a new hobby he's developed – making maple syrup.
"I would never have thought that I could get enjoyment out of sitting outside watching sap boil," Page said. "But I can't tell you, I can't fully describe the enjoyment I get from it. Just the peace that comes along with being out in the north woods, the fresh air."
Added Page: "It doesn't get much better than being here in Northern Minnesota."