Photo: Patrick Smith, Getty Images

PFF Projects STEEP Decline for 2018 Vikings; Still Win NFC North

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Photo: Patrick Smith, Getty Images



At first glance, running into this graphic today, put a nice Thursday smile on my face. After clicking the link and reading the story though, I realized that there’s a lot more shade being thrown at the Vikings in this projection, than there is praise.

At first read, I was getting a little upset (that changed). Why upset you say? The clear answer is a classic case of Minnesota defensiveness. Our ‘why don’t they ever give us any credit’ reflex response to years of being shunned by national media was bursting. Look, there’s a lot in the article that I love. They call Stefon Diggs the “Antonio Brown of the NFC North”. That was nice to read. And, what does that make Adam Thielen??? They also rave about Harrison Smith (how can you not), among other players and other things that compliment the entirety of the Vikings’ roster and why all of the numbers and opinions over at ProFootballFocus.com lead to a Vikings’ NFC North title.

But wow, were there some sentences (and win projections) in this piece that really rubbed me the wrong way. First, they are projecting less wins for the Vikings, compared to last year. ‘C’mon Eric, they had 13 wins last year.’ Save it. PFF is apparently projecting under 9 wins for the Purple and Gold this season (8.78), even though the O/U in Vegas is 10.5 (See picture below). With a healthy Aaron Rodgers all season, 9 wins won’t be good enough for 2nd place in the North. You think those ugly green and yellow ghosts are just going to go away and die after what happened last season. Doubtful.

PFF points to the Vikings’ strength of schedule as one contributing factor to the projected decline in wins (I’ll leave this subject to others because there are a lot of flaws in that stat pre-season). But here is what got me. PFF points to the change at the QB position, and the incoming of Kirk Cousins, as a major player in the decline. Anyone else find that insane for a guy we just paid $85 Million?

See for yourself (Click image for entire article):

There’s also a projection of regression for the Vikings as well, as they break in a new quarterback and the league’s eighth-most-difficult schedule in our rating system.

Looking ahead to next season, there is no one who would logically challenge Rodgers’ atop the NFC North totem pole, especially with Case Keenum now in Denver and Kirk Cousins a Cluster 4 quarterback.

if the Vikings can repeat their generationally-impressive performance in support of their quarterback from 2017, then Cousins should be a good bet to return Keenum-like numbers as a Cluster 2 quarterback.

Now, to lay all cards on the table, I wasn’t the biggest Case Keenum supporter last year; as he was throwing all over unsuspecting defenses and putting up numbers that he hadn’t seen since his time at Houston University. But, to my own defense, I definitely wasn’t calling for the Kirk Cousins contract either.

However, now that we’ve paid Cousins, let’s stop imagining or hoping or praying or whatever, that Case Keenum is on the same level as Captain Kirk is. He’s not. Cousins was paid $85 Million because he’s proven himself in this league. He’s consistently put up numbers that compare with the top-5 in the NFL on a really bad and dysfunctional Washington team. To be strapped with the “leader” title inside of that organization isn’t an easy cross to bare.

Combine a lot of added organizational stability with his relative young age (30 by season start) compared to the other top QB’s in the NFL, and there is a lot of signs that point to the very best of Kirk Cousins’ years being ahead of him. On the contrary, if you can sit in a seat, attached to a lie-detector, and tell me that Case Keenum will be better this season than he was last, without that needle flying off the page…. well, you’ve either figured that machine out or you might want to talk to a doctor.

Maybe it was the positive words about some others on the team as I continued to read, that forced the positive light upon me. But, instead of taking the classic “Minnesota defensive” route, I decided to take the high road instead.

via GIPHY

This is a GOOD thing. Outside of last year’s numbers, which paints a delusional comparison between these two, we all know Kirk Cousins is a much better quarterback than Case Keenum. We loved Case but Kirk will fit balls through tighter windows, take more chances, and put a lot more pressure on defenses to defend against the passing game. You might say Keenum’s decision-making is better but I’d argue that he probably cost the team quite a few big plays last season, not taking more risks. And, his best attribute BY FAR is often more frustrating to his offensive lineman than it is to a defense. That’s his scrambling and ability to avoid the rush and move the pocket. Not knowing where your QB is as an offensive lineman, can be frustrating.

We may never get a moment quite like the “Minneapolis Miracle” again and Case Keenum will forever live in Minnesota immortality for it. But, we are better off now. No matter what PFF’s number machine says. Even if the Vikings don’t make it to 13 wins, the prediction of only getting 8.75 is laughable. Especially when most of your logic points to a position that was improved on, over the offseason.

So anyway…..

Eric Strack

MinnesotaSportsFan.com (@RealMNSportsFan)

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