The Minnesota Vikings closed out the 2019 regular season with a 10-6 record and the second Wild Card berth. They beat the New Orleans Saints in the first round, but then lost 27-10 to the 49ers in the Divisional round. While the loss is disappointing, it’s an improvement from last year’s 8-7-1 season. But there has still been plenty of talk about what the team needs to do to make it to the next level, and most of that centers around the team’s quarterback.
Minnesota felt like it made a power move when it signed Kirk Cousins to a three-year, $84 million contract in 2018. At the time he was one of the most highly sought after free agents on the market, but he hasn’t produced like an elite quarterback. His quarterback rating is 107.1 this year, which is a career high, but he also finished with his lowest passing yards total since 2014. The Vikings’ faith in Cousins arm has wavered this year and opposing defenses want the ball in his hand when the game is on the line. Even his top receivers — Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs —have called him out this year. Here’s what Minnesota should look at heading into 2020.
Sure Cousins has struggled, but maybe part of that stems from not having much help at the tight end position. Tight ends often serve as valuable escape outlets for signal callers during tense situations, and Minnesota has Kyle Rudolph, who is one of the highest-paid players at the position. He has scored six touchdowns but his 39 receptions for 367 yards are far from elite. A cheaper and more effective option here could open up the offense alongside Minnesota’s quality receivers and Dalvin Cook, when he’s healthy.
The Vikings also need to sure up their secondary. Former standout corner Xavier Rhodes appears to be on the decline while free agency is approaching for Mackenzie Alexander and Trae Waynes. The defensive line is still fearsome but the team still needs quality intermediate and deep coverage.
The 2019 NFL season is coming to a close and while the playoffs are just arriving, it’s time to start looking ahead to 2020. We won’t know the full regular season schedule until April, but even with the 2019 season not finished, we know each team’s list of opponents. The NFL has a formula they use to determine opponents, with divisions and conferences rotating each year.
The Vikings face their divisional opponents a total of six times. The NFC North faces the NFC South, which adds four more opponents. The NFC North faces the AFC South, which adds four more opponents. The final two opponents are the teams that finish in the same standing position in the NFC East and NFC West.