2014 NFL preview

FitzbeatsquareThank you very much, summer is slowly getting away from us. September has arrived and the Vikings again start the season with high expectations of returning to the playoffs. In the National Football League, you have to dig in with no regrets and not give an inch.

First-year Head Coach Mike Zimmer has carefully gone about building a team that is fundamentally sound and challenges its players to individually get better. From what I’ve seen, Zimmer has done a good job with hiring assistants that are teaching and, for the most part, the players are responding.

 Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer  Photo by Steve Floyd
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Photo by Steve Floyd

Seven times in the Vikings’ history since 1961 they have finished undefeated in the pre-season: Norm Van Brocklin, 5-0 in 1964-65; Bud Grant, 5-0 in 1973; Dennis Green, 1992-1998-2001; and now Mike Zimmer, 4-0 in 2014.

I’m a believer that for a first-year head coach, the preseason and a successful one is a true measuring stick of a coach establishing his program, and wins dictate the direction the team is headed in.

Norv Turner is a highly respected offensive coach; he has made an impact on this offense. Matt Cassell will start at quarterback; he’s a veteran, not spectacular but efficient.

The Vikings have many weapons starting with running back Adrian Peterson, wide receivers Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson, and tight end Kyle Rudolph. All have achieved Pro Bowl success.

The Vikings offensive line is rock solid. Defensively the Vikings were awful in 2013, allowing 480 points. That’s why Zimmer is here — defense is his perceived specialty. From what I’ve seen, he knows what he’s doing.

Get ready, Vikings fans, the Vikings should challenge for the NFC North title. Here are my predictions in order of finish:

NFC NORTH: Vikings 11-5, Green Bay 10-6, Detroit, Chicago

NFC EAST: Philadelphia 11-5, New York Giants, Dallas, Washington 

NFC SOUTH: New Orleans 10-6, Carolina, Atlanta, Tampa Bay

NFC WEST: Seattle 12-4, Arizona 10-6, San Francisco, St. Louis

AFC NORTH: Cincinnati 12-4, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cleveland

AFC SOUTH: Indianapolis 11-5, Houston, Tennessee, Jacksonville
AFC EAST: New England 12-4, Miami, New York Jets, Buffalo

AFC WEST: Denver 13-3, Kansas City 11-5, San Diego, Oakland

 

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.