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2013 Minnesota Vikings
Many NFL bettors had absolutely no idea what to expect from the Minnesota Vikings last season as their young and unproven quarterback Christian Ponder was entering his first full season as the starter and franchise running back Adrian Peterson was coming off surgery to repair a torn ACL. The Vikings came out of the gates hot, going 4-1 in their first five games (3-2 against the spread) but then quickly lost momentum with a 2-5 mark (1-5-1 ATS) in their next seven games. However, Minnesota really hit the gas pedal down the stretch, winning four consecutive games to close out the year both straight-up and ATS to finish 10-6 overall and edge out the Chicago Bears for the last playoff spot in the NFC. The Vikings traveled to Lambeau Field on Wild Card Weekend to face their bitter division rivals the Green Bay Packers, who held Peterson under 100 yards rushing and took advantage of Ponder's absence due to an elbow injury in a 24-10 win.
Peterson turned in one of the all-time great single-season performances to capture NFL MVP honors, rushing for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns to fall just short of Eric Dickerson's league record of 2,105 despite playing less than a year after ACL surgery. Ponder struggled miserably at times, but he did just enough to keep Minnesota afloat and in positions to win games, throwing for 2,935 yards, 18 TDs and 12 interceptions. Vikings all-purpose wide receiver Percy Harvin only played in nine games due to injuries, but he also still managed to record 773 total yards and five TDs. Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen continued to be the heart and soul of Minnesota's defense, recording 12 sacks to reach at least 11 for the sixth consecutive season.
The Vikings have had a very interesting offseason, losing their best receiver in Harvin and their best cornerback in Antoine Winfield, as both signed with the Seattle Seahawks in free agency. However, Minnesota inked a pair of former Packers in WR Greg Jennings (five-year deal worth $45 million) and linebacker Desmond Bishop. Minnesota also had three first-round draft picks, selecting defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, CB Xavier Rhodes and WR Cordarrelle Patterson, with all three of these rookies expected to be immediate contributors this season.
The oddsmakers at 5Dimes have the Vikings at O/U 7.5 wins for this season. Peterson is one of the most dominant players in the NFL, and it wouldn't be surprising at all to see him rack up over 2,000 yards of total offense again this year. Ponder should also continue to grow and improve, and the team has surrounded him with some nice weapons in Jennings, Patterson and tight end Kyle Rudolph. The oddsmakers still seem to be underestimating the Vikings, and there is no reason why this team can't win 10 games again and return to the playoffs.
Recommended Play: OVER 7.5
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