Minnesota Vikings: 2014 NFL Nation season predictions

Minnesota Vikings game predictions

September, 2, 2014
ESPN.com Minnesota Vikings reporter Ben Goessling makes his game-by-game picks for the 2014 season.

Week 1: at St. Louis Rams

This is a tough opening for the Vikings' offense, against a talented Rams defense with a pass rush that could give the Vikings' offensive line trouble in the Edward Jones Dome. But with Sam Bradford out -- and former Vikings quarterback Shaun Hill likely to start in his place -- the Vikings should be able to grind out a victory in their opener. Prediction: Win

Week 2: New England Patriots

Facing Tom Brady at home, with just one week of regular-season film for Brady to study on their defense, the Vikings might have a shot to slow down the future Hall of Famer, a year after coach Mike Zimmer drew up a game plan that forced Brady into his worst game of the year against the Bengals. But it might be too much to ask the Vikings' current defense to rise to that level. Prediction: Loss

Week 3: at New Orleans Saints

A trip to the Superdome against one of the NFC's preseason favorites doesn't look like a particularly appetizing matchup for the Vikings. Drew Brees and his array of weapons will test the Vikings' secondary depth as much as any offense on the schedule this season. The Vikings might have to hope they're productive enough on offense to trade touchdowns with the Saints. Prediction: Loss

Week 4: Atlanta Falcons

The Vikings' pass defense will be tested again, but the Falcons' remade defense is also trying to rebound from an ugly season. At home, the Vikings will get a win to finish the first month of the season at .500. Prediction: Win

Week 5: at Green Bay Packers

The only prime-time game on the schedule comes on a Thursday night at Lambeau Field. The Vikings' last win here came in 2009, when they had Brett Favre at quarterback. They left with a tie in 2013, when Aaron Rodgers was hurt. Zimmer has beaten Rodgers twice, but if the quarterback is healthy, expecting a Vikings win on national TV at Lambeau is too much to ask. Prediction: Loss

Week 6: Detroit Lions

The Vikings have lost one home game to the Lions since 1997 and that came during a 3-13 season in 2011. With 10 days to rest before this one, the Vikings will claim their first NFC North victory under Zimmer. Prediction: Win

Week 7: at Buffalo Bills

This should be one of the more favorable road matchups on the Vikings' schedule, and against the league's 28th-ranked run defense from a year ago, Adrian Peterson will be able to find enough running room to help the Vikings get above .500. Prediction: Win

Week 8: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

As the Vikings make their first of two trips to Florida, their old head coach will be waiting for them: Leslie Frazier is now the Buccaneers' defensive coordinator, presiding over a talented unit that could be one of the best in the NFC. That group will frustrate the Vikings' offense and help Frazier get the last laugh. Prediction: Loss

Week 9: Washington Redskins

The Vikings head into their bye week after facing the Redskins for the fifth consecutive year. Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris and DeSean Jackson will give the Vikings' defense plenty to worry about, but the Vikings held on to beat the Redskins last year, and with a sturdier defense, they'll do it again. Prediction: Win

Week 11: at Chicago Bears

Minnesota's last win at Soldier Field came in 2007. Against a dangerous Bears offense -- and in Jared Allen's first matchup against his old team -- the Vikings' losing streak in Chicago doesn't figure to end. Keep an eye on cornerback Xavier Rhodes in this one -- the Vikings will mostly keep him on one side of the field, which could mean he'll have to match up against both Brandon Marshall (whom he controlled in a matchup last December) and Alshon Jeffery. Prediction: Loss

Week 12: Green Bay Packers

At this point in the season, the Vikings would be in need of a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. They haven't fared well in cold weather in recent years, and when they played the Packers on the same weekend last year, the temperature at kickoff at Lambeau Field was 19 degrees. Fans at TCF Bank Stadium will be in full throat for this one, but Rodgers and Eddie Lacy will hand the Vikings a difficult defeat. Prediction: Loss

Week 13: Carolina Panthers

The Vikings' slide continues here, against a Panthers team that sustained some losses in free agency but still has Cam Newton at quarterback and an impressive defense. A loss here would drop the Vikings to 5-7 and effectively put their playoff hopes on life support. Prediction: Loss

Week 14: New York Jets

It's hard to know which direction the Jets will go with Geno Smith at quarterback, but with the Vikings in need of a victory, they'll rattle the quarterback, take advantage of a leaky secondary and post their first outdoor December home victory since "The Miracle at the Met" in 1980. Prediction: Win

Week 15: at Detroit Lions

Another road loss in the division would doom the Vikings' playoff hopes, and it will come in a building where they've won just once since 2009. By this point in the season, if injuries have reduced the Vikings' secondary depth at all, it could be too much to withstand against Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and the rest of a dangerous Lions offense. Prediction: Loss

Week 16: at Miami Dolphins

If the Vikings are out of the playoffs at this point, the game could be a good opportunity to take a look at Teddy Bridgewater as the rookie returns to his hometown. In any case, the Vikings can get a win against a Dolphins team with a tough defense, but plenty of questions on offense, especially on the offensive line. Prediction: Win

Week 17: Chicago Bears

The Vikings will end their season at 7-9, with a home defeat against a Bears team that could have plenty to play for in Week 17. Allen's return to Minnesota as a member of the Bears should be emotional, but he'll be warmly received in a game where Bridgewater could get a chance to start at home and begin his case for the top job in 2015. If the Vikings establish an identity on defense and move closer to figuring out their quarterback situation, it'd be tough not to call this season a success. The guess here is they'll have taken steps in that direction by December. Prediction: Loss

Predicted Record: 7-9