The NFL preseason has begun.
The Vikings will visit Denver to take on the Broncos at 8 p.m. (CT) Saturday.
Let's see where the experts have the Vikings, compared to all other 32 teams, heading into preseason Week 1.
The Vikings are staying put from their ranking after the draft. All looks well for running back Dalvin Cook in his return from a torn ACL. The talk still centers around new QB1 Kirk Cousins. Don't expect massive passing numbers like the line he put up with Washington in 2016, his Pro Bowl season (4,917 yards, 25 touchdowns, 97.2 passer rating). Cousins could reach the latter figures, but if all goes right in Mike Zimmer's world, he should barely even need to eclipse 4,000 yards. With a healthy Cook, this Minnesota team is destined to run the football and rely on a top-tier defense, not chuck it all over the park, Stefon Diggs' new gold-plated deal notwithstanding.
On defense, the Vikings made one of the best value signings of the offseason with the addition of 3-technique lineman Sheldon Richardson. With Richardson joining Everson Griffen, Danielle Hunter and Linval Joseph, the front four went from really, really good to flat-out filthy.
I'll probably be on an island with the Vikings at No. 1, but that's fine. I like all the pieces they have and the moves they made this offseason. I don't think Kirk Cousins is an MVP, but I think he's good. I believe he's better than Case Keenum. Is he overpaid? Maybe. But that doesn't mean he's not a top 10 or 12 quarterback. He's a great addition for a team that was loaded before adding him.
Don't be surprised if Dalvin Cook's return actually has a more profound effect on 11th-ranked offense than Kirk Cousins' arrival.
They signed Kirk Cousins at quarterback, which should make them a better team. But there's a lot of pressure on Cousins to be the guy who gets them to the Super Bowl.
2017 record: 13-3, 1st in NFC North
Biggest additions: Signed QB Kirk Cousins, signed DT Sheldon Richardson
Biggest losses: QB Case Keenum, QB Sam Bradford
One thing to know: After years of speculation as Kirk Cousins threw up ridiculous numbers to no avail with the Washington Redskins, football fans will finally have the chance to see how he looks when the games have stakes.
I'm not convinced Kirk Cousins is such a big upgrade over Case Keenum, but he's got one of the NFL's best defenses at his back and a pair of stud receivers, something he never sniffed in Washington. Oh, and healthy Dalvin Cook, too.