The followers and supporters of the Minnesota Vikings are really hoping this is the season where the franchise finally makes the leap, as they’ve become a trendy pick around the NFL to reach the postseason and challenge the Green Bay Packers for the top spot in the NFC North division. With superstar running back Adrian Peterson returning, the potential rise of second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater after a great second half a year ago, and an above-average defensive unit, indications are that this will indeed be the campaign where Minnesota rises up and emerges as a legitimate NFC contender.
They’ll certainly get the chance to showcase their potential early, and in front of a national audience, commencing the new year in the nightcap of the annual season-opening Monday Night Football doubleheader. The excitement of the 2015 slate is certainly reflecting in ticket sales, as tickets to see the Vikings and 49ers open up the year during primetime are averaging $223 on the secondary market, while the get-in price is a lot more reasonable, being just $79, according to SeatSmart. That has to be considered one of the better bargains of all Week 1 contests, as San Francisco is one of the more storied franchises in football despite their low expectations this season, while Minnesota might use this game as a launching pad for a potentially notable run.
Peterson will be the man of the hour when both teams hit the field for the first time in ’15. The future Hall-of-Famer makes his long-awaited return after sitting out just about all of 2014 due to an off-the-field scandal, which put the Vikings in disarray from the get-go. Peterson’s career may be winding down, but there is an overwhelming feeling that he’s entering 2015 with a chip on his shoulder, and that could be a very bad thing for a depleted 49ers defense that is missing numerous key players from years past. Even if San Francisco finds a way to bottle up a determined Peterson, they’ll still have to worry about a vastly-improved Teddy Bridgewater, who exhibited considerable potential in the second half of his rookie season a year ago. Now with Peterson back in the fold, not to mention the addition of established wideout Mike Wallace for the receiving corps, and Bridgewater is set up to be truly dangerous in his sophomore showing. Receiver Charles Johnson is also someone to look out for in this offense after the rapport he and Bridgewater developed in their first year together.
With a good defense as well led by veterans Chad Greenway and Terence Newman, this is the most potential the Vikings are coming into a season with in many years. If they can capitalize on a team that will be making its debut under a new head coach and knock off the 49ers to begin the season, it could be the start of something very special in Minnesota. In any event, the entire football world will be watching when Peterson steps onto an NFL field for the first time in over a calendar year.