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Lunchbreak: Vikings Lead NFC North in NFL.com's Projected Win Totals

Although the Vikings regular season isn't scheduled to open until four months from Wednesday, predictions are already being made about how the team will fare in 2020.

Cynthia Frelund, an analytics expert for NFL.com, recently ran 100,000 projected simulations using up-to-date data for all 32 teams to determine a projected win total for each this upcoming season.

Frelund's model predicted 9.0 wins for the Vikings, which topped all the teams in the NFC North.

"The Minnesota Vikings made the most selections in the NFL Draft since it became a seven-round event in 1994 with 15 picks," Frelund said. "My model ranks all of their offseason moves very highly, with the nine-win projection topping the NFC North."

Frelund had the Packers at 8.8 wins, the Bears at 7.9 wins and the Lions at 6.0 wins.

"Aaron Rodgers keeps [Green Bay's] win total high, meaning a few miraculous moments could easily seal the division," Frelund said. "Quarterback play is a huge factor in my model, and in the case of the Chicago Bears, could shift their current projection of 7.9 wins.

"Right now, I'm using a 50-50 split between Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles, but check back as the season nears," Frelund added. "Despite a strong draft class that addressed team needs in getting a top-rated corner [in Jeff Okudah] and dual-threat running back [in D'Andre Swift], the Detroit Lions are forecast to only get six wins this season, primarily due to questions on defense."

The Vikings ranked fifth among all NFC teams in terms of projected wins.

San Francisco led the way at 10.1, followed by New Orleans (10.0), Dallas (9.6) and Philadelphia (9.3).

The Chiefs led Frelund's projections among all teams with 11.1 wins.

Cronin predicts strong season for Dalvin Cook

ESPN had all of its NFL beat reporters predict over or under on certain stat lines for players, and Vikings reporter Courtney Cronin projected another strong season for Dalvin Cook.

Cronin was asked if Cook will go over or under 8.5 rushing touchdowns, and she quickly picked the over.

This is an easy one. Over 38 percent of the Vikings' offense ran through Cook (ninth-most touches from scrimmage in the NFL) in 2019 while he recorded 13 rushing touchdowns. The fourth-year running back is the focal point of an offense that had the second-highest designed run percentage in the NFL last season and chose to hand the ball off to Cook 43 times inside the red zone where he was a constant scoring threat.

Cook has become the face of this franchise, and his touches represent that. Minnesota didn't draft or sign another running back, so it's safe to assume Cook's workload (and opportunities to score) will only increase this season.

The Vikings running back enjoyed a breakout Pro Bowl season in 2019 as he found the end zone 13 times on the ground, which ranked fourth in the league, despite Cook playing in just 14 games.

He was also 10th overall with 1,135 rushing yards, and tied for ninth with seven rushes of 20-plus yards.

Other ESPN reporters believe NFC North players will also have strong seasons in 2020.

They were asked if Bears WR Allen Robinson would surpass 1,024.5 receiving yards, if Lions QB Matthew Stafford would throw for more than 4,199.5 passing yards and if Packers WR Davante Adams would eclipse 8.5 receiving touchdowns.

Each reporter believes those players will hit and surpass those marks.

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