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Lunchbreak: Vikings Included in Bucky Brooks’ Top 5 ‘Sleeper’ Teams for 2019

Will the Vikings re-write their season narrative this year after a disappointing 8-7-1 campaign in 2018?

NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks recently said Minnesota shouldn’t be counted out, including them in his top five “sleepers” for 2019. He highlighted teams that he feels “really aren’t getting the respect they deserve” heading into training camps later this month.

Brooks wrote the following of the Vikings:

Don’t let a disappointing 2018 campaign overshadow the potential of the sleeping giant residing in the Twin Cities. While there was plenty of hate spewed in Kirk Cousins’ direction for the way things turned out in his first season after signing a blockbuster deal, the Vikings should feel good about his chances of performing like a top-10 quarterback in an offense being overseen by [Offensive Coordinator] Kevin Stefanski and [Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Advisor] Gary Kubiak.

Brooks said that Minnesota’s offensive system “places a premium on the running game and complementary aerial attack.”

With Dalvin Cook healthy and ready to add sizzle to the running game as a stretch (outside zone) runner, Cousins could terrorize opponents with timely dimes to Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Defensively, the Vikings have more than enough playmakers (Danielle Hunter, Everson Griffen, Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Harrison Smith, and Xavier Rhodes) to win nip-and-tuck battles that are traditionally won with the defense on the field. If the Vikings can learn how to play complementary ball in each of the game’s three phases, [Head Coach Mike] Zimmer’s team could be standing in the winner’s circle at the end of the season.

The other four teams Brooks projected as this season’s sleepers are the Falcons, Steelers, Jaguars and Packers, whom the Vikings will face in Week 2 and Week 16. He noted Green Bay’s new Head Coach Matt LaFleur and the team’s offseason focus on the defensive side of the ball.

The Packers addressed concerns about the defense in the offseason by pumping a lot of free-agent dollars and draft capital into resources on the edges (Preston Smith, Za'Darius Smith, and Rashan Gary), which should enable the team to close out games against opponents chasing points late in contests.

Jonathan Wilf discusses esports investment

Vikings Executive Vice President of Strategic Planning and Business Initiatives Jonathan Wilf recently spoke with CNBC’s Annie Pei about the family’s recent investment in esports. Pei wrote:

On Tuesday, Activision Blizzard revealed that the Wilf family’s WISE Ventures investment fund, founded by Vikings [Owners] Mark and Zygi Wilf, will become part of its upcoming Call of Duty league by fielding a Minnesota-based team.

And while the Vikings owners have had their eye on the esports industry for a while, it was Activision Blizzard’s approach to building the space that led them to finally get in on the hype.

“Having watched closely as the ecosystem evolved and matured with the first few years of the franchised leagues, we are confident in the long-term potential of what Activision Blizzard is building and in the esports industry as a whole,” Wilf told CNBC.

Pei explained that the Vikings are “entering a field where a good number of traditional sports giants have already snapped up slots in various leagues or started their own esports branches.”

But despite their later entry into esports, Wilf emphasizes that the Vikings owners were waiting for what they perceived as a strong investment that would give them a solid foothold in the space.

“For us, investing in esports was never about being first, it was about finding the right opportunity at the right time,” Wilf told CNBC. “The proven staying power of Call of Duty as a franchise certainly factored into our thinking.”

Vikings Legends golf for charity

NFL Legends who played for the Vikings, Packers, Bears and Cardinals – along with some other former athletes – traveled to Superior, Wisconsin, over the weekend for the Nemadji Celebrity Golf Scramble.

According to Claudia Chakamian of FOX 21, former Vikings who participated in the charity event included Hall of Famer John Randle, Ted Brown, Tommy Kramer and Rickey Young. Chakamian wrote:

The event allowed teams to play a nine or 18-hole scramble, and there was also a silent auction as well as a concert both [Sunday] and Saturday night to close out the event.

The event raises money for the Twin Ports Junior Golf Fund and to [support the family of infant Viona], who passed away recently from Trisomy 18, as well as celebrate the careers of Mark Karlson and Steve Flagstad, who are retiring from the Nemadji Golf Course after four decades.

“It’s always nice to feel like you’re giving something back, to do something good in the community for people that, are not less fortunate, but that need a little bit of help and just kind of springboard something that could be really good in the future,” Young told Chakamian. “It just feels good to be here and have a lot of my friends here that I know and I played with and doing this for a good cause.”

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