The Minnesota Vikings are heading into the 2016 NFL season with high expectations of competing for the NFC North division title once again. Last season, they were able to knock off the Green Bay Packers in a clutch Week 17 game to take the division.
Mike Zimmer and company are, without question, happy with the roster that has been put together. They went into the offseason and made some small moves to improve, while letting their young talent continue to develop. Everything points to the Vikings being serious contenders in 2016.
Laquon Treadwell was drafted with the Vikings’ first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and is going to be a major playmaker for the offense.
It is going to be an interesting season in the NFC to say the very least. Minnesota will have to compete with the Packers, Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals, and Seattle Seahawks. Those four teams are going to be very tough to beat, but the Vikings are more than ready for the challenge.
Minnesota is a team to keep an eye on this season. They may be an underdog, but there have been a lot of successful underdog stories in the past.
All of that being said, what five things can be taken away from the Vikings’ third NFL preseason game against the San Diego Chargers?
Teddy Bridgewater Is Looking Better and Better
There couldn’t be more excitement about Teddy Bridgewater in Minnesota than there currently is around town. He completed 12 of his 16 pass attempts for 161 yards and a touchdown today against San Diego. Bridgewater is set to take the next step and is looking better and better as he continues to progress.
Jerick McKinnon Is Ready for a Bigger Role
While Jerick McKinnon may be ready for a bigger role, that doesn’t mean the Vikings are going to give it to him with Adrian Peterson still in town. That being said, Zimmer could find ways to get the football in McKinnon’s hands. He carried the football eight times for 56 yards today and will be a dangerous weapon in the regular season.
Stefon Diggs Has Legitimate Star Potential
If the Vikings’ offense is going to live up to its full potential, wide receiver Stefon Diggs will be a major part of it. He caught five passes for 71 yards this afternoon and will be asked to shoulder a large load in the regular season. Diggs has legitimate star potential and it will be interesting to see if he takes a big step towards reaching it in 2016.
Harrison Smith Is Still Extremely Underrated
Minnesota has had one of the NFL’s top safeties for quite some time. Harrison Smith has consistently proven himself to be one of the best defensive playmakers in the game, but has yet to receive the attention that he deserves. He will once again look to get the attention he deserves in 2016.
Mackensie Alexander Is Ready to Make an Impact as a Rookie
Looking ahead at the 2016 NFL season, the Vikings are going to need rookie cornerback Mackensie Alexander to play a big role. He was drafted with the No. 54 overall pick and is ready to make an impact. Alexander intercepted a pass to go along with two tackles this afternoon, and fans should be excited about his future with the team.
Expect to see the Vikings in serious contention in the NFC North division race once again. They should end up in the playoffs if they play to their ability.
Do you think the Minnesota Vikings will win the NFC North division title for the second straight year? Can they compete to represent the NFC in Super Bowl LI? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below.
[Photo by Otto Greule, Jr./Getty Images]