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Lunchbreak: Predicts Vikings Final 2021 Win Total

It's time for the stretch run of the 2021 NFL season.

Half of the teams around the league — including the Vikings — have already had their bye week, while the other half will be off between Weeks 10-14.

And with the second half of the season looming, Cynthia Frelund of NFL Network took a look at each team and projected final win totals.

Frelund, who is the network's Analytics Expert, looked at the data and estimated the Vikings to finish with 8.7 wins.

Frelund wrote:

The Vikings upcoming schedule — featuring the Chargers in Week 10, plus the Rams in Week 16, Steelers in Week 14 and Packers (in Weeks 11 and 17) — is more difficult than the schedules of their peers in this muddle of NFC teams vying for the conference's final playoff slot. Minnesota's passing game is currently not a source of big plays, but it will be essential for that to change if the Vikings are to match (or improve on) this forecast.

While the Vikings obviously cannot finish with exactly 8.7 wins, that total is the seventh-highest among all NFC teams in Frelund's projections.

She has Seattle projected to finish with 8.3 wins, while Philadelphia is estimated to finish with 8.2 wins.

Based on Frelund's projections, those three teams would battle for the seventh and final playoff spot in the NFC.

Frelund has Green Bay projected to finish with 12.0 wins, while Chicago (5.8) and Detroit (1.4) were toward the bottom of the conference.

Vikings jump in PFF's offensive line rankings

The Vikings offensive line, much like the team itself, has gone through ups and downs this season.

Minnesota has allowed just one sack in the past three games, but dealt with inconsistency and frustrating moments earlier in the season.

Analytics website Pro Football Focus recently released its weekly offensive line rankings and had the Vikings at No. 24, a two-spot jump from the previous week.

Sam Monson of PFF wrote:

Christian Darrisaw looks like he will be a major upgrade for the Vikings at left tackle, but they got a look at another potential personnel change this past week when Mason Cole started at center and earned a 74.6 PFF game-grade against Baltimore. Garrett Bradbury has only four games in his NFL career that can match that number, and none of them have come since Week 10 of 2020.

Minnesota has a former first-round pick invested in Bradbury, but at some point, that is nothing but a sunk cost. Meanwhile, Brian O'Neill has allowed just eight pressures in eight games as the team's best lineman.

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Jan. 5, 2022.

O'Neill, a team captain, is PFF's highest-graded Vikings offensive lineman this season (snap counts are factored in) with an overall mark of 68.8.

Cole, who started Sunday in place of Bradbury, has a 73.9 grade but has played just 58 total snaps this season.

Darrisaw has started the past three games and has an overall grade of 65.3, while right guard Olisaemeka Udoh's season PFF grade is 60.5.

The other three linemen who have started multiple games this season — Bradbury, Ezra Cleveland and Rashod Hill — all have a grade below 60.

PFF's full offensive line rankings can be found here.