Vikings: It’s time to fish or cut bait!

Kirk Cousins, it’s on you! Photo by Travis Lee

We have been waiting, and now it’s here! Are you ready for some football?

The NFL 2018 season is now. This marks my 40th season of covering the NFL and your Minnesota Vikings. I can tell you, Vikings fans are hungry. In fact, they are starving for a winner.

The Vikings had their best season in years in 2017, going 13-3 and 1-1 in the playoffs. For those of you keeping score, it was the first time since 1998 when they went 15-1 that the Vikings had the NFL’s best overall record. They tied with New England and Philadelphia, and they ironically reached Super Bowl 52.

All 32 NFL teams are loaded up again in pursuit of glory. The salary cap is $177 million, and that indicates all the teams are equal.

This season will not fall completely on the shoulders of free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins, the NFL’s first $84 million quarterback. However, the Vikings believe and have identified Cousins as the quarterback who can lead them where they have never been: Super Bowl Champions!

As good as Cousins is, throwing for more than 4,000 yards three years in a row, did you know his record as a starting quarterback is just 26-30-1? He’s certainly no Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees or Eli Manning — a quarterback who has delivered a Super Bowl Championship.

I cannot state the obvious any clearer. That is the bottom line.

To win the Super Bowl, the Vikings have the finest home stadium in the NFL, U.S. Bank Stadium. Last year they were 8-1 at home, including the “Minneapolis Miracle” NFC playoff game. Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center in Eagan is the finest franchise training site in pro sports. If you attended training camp this year, you know that.

The ownership has spared no expense in giving the team the best advantage in football. Now, as they say at Nike, all they have to do is “Just Do It!” They have not played a game yet and the obstacles are lining up: injuries, players being suspended for PEDs, the deaths of line coach Tony Sporano and legendary trainer Fred Zamberletti.

How this team deals with those intangibles will go a long way to determine if this is a championship season. That’s being tested spiritually and mentally.

Have you seen the Vikings 2018 road schedule? It’s a beast. They have to play both 2018 Super Bowl teams on the road where they seldom lose, at Green Bay week two -Detroit-New England-Philadelphia-Los Angeles and at Seattle.

Can explosive Dalvin Cook return to form after knee surgery? Can rookie kicker Daniel Carlson handle the pressure cooker? Can Mike Zimmer’s defense return to form and dominate after getting torched by the Saints and Eagles in the playoffs?

Here’s how I vision 2018: VIKINGS 11-5, Green Bay 10-6, Detroit 9-7, Chicago 6-10.