Thu, 29 Jul 2021

Lindsey Young

The Vikings are returning much of their offense from last season, and fans are hoping the unit will pick up where it left off.

Minnesota has a number of notable names on that side of the ball, but CBS Sports' Cody Benjamin recently spotlighted each team's "top 2021 duo" and ranked all 32 accordingly. Worth noting is that duos weren't restricted to two offensive players or two defensive players.

Benjamin named receiver Justin Jefferson and running back Dalvin Cook as the Vikings leading duo, and he ranked them eighth-best in the league. Benjamin wrote:

The difference between Cook and Jefferson and the Saints RB-WR (Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas) duo is negligible. Jefferson just offers even more pop as a play-making specialist out wide. Danielle Hunter also deserves a mention because of his freakish abilities when healthy.

Benjamin ranked Kamara and Thomas just behind Cook-Jefferson at No. 9.

The duos ranked ahead of the Vikings were as follows: Packers (QB Aaron Rodgers, WR Davante Adams), Chiefs (QB Patrick Mahomes, WR Tyreek Hill), Chargers (QB Justin Herbert, WR Keenan Allen), Bills (QB Josh Allen, WR Stefon Diggs), Seahawks (QB Russell Wilson, WR D.K. Metcalf), Cardinals (QB Kyler Murray, WR DeAndre Hopkins), Rams (DE Aaron Donald, CB Jalen Ramsey).

NFL.com ranks teams most likely to win 1st franchise Super Bowl

Hall of Fame Head Coach Bud Grant led the Vikings to four Super Bowls during his tenure, but Minnesota was defeated each time. The team has not been back to the big dance since.

The Vikings are one of nine NFL franchises who haven't yet won a Super Bowl, and NFL.com's Adam Schein recently ranked those teams by likelihood of winning a Lombardi Trophy to cap off the 2021 season.

Schein placed the Vikings at No. 6 on the list but said they "might be the most fascinating team in the NFL this year." He wrote:

If Aaron Rodgers never plays another snap for the Packers - and I don't see any sign that he will - Minnesota is my pick to win the [NFC] North. Danielle Hunter is back on defense, and that puts the Vikings back in the mix. The pass rush was nonexistent without him. I loved the Patrick Peterson signing, a perfect match with defensive guru, [Head Coach] Mike Zimmer. Justin Jefferson enjoyed a magical rookie season, and it was no fluke: The guy is a dominator outside. If Adam Thielen can stay healthy, Minnesota could have the best 1-2 WR punch this side of Julio Jones-A.J. Brown. Of course, Dalvin Cook is a game-breaking star in the backfield. Which leads us to the lightning rod ...

Look, say what you will about Kirk Cousins, but he's a very good player. Is he elite? No. He ranks somewhere in the 8-16 range of quarterbacks. Is he good enough to win in the playoffs? Yes. Remember when Cousins and Co. shocked the Saints in New Orleans two postseasons ago? Don't let the haters forget it.

Schein topped his list with the Bills, who last season won the AFC East and advanced to the AFC Championship Game, where they were defeated by the Chiefs.

Behind the Chiefs were the Browns, who are entering their second season under former Vikings Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski. The Vikings are scheduled to host the Browns at U.S. Bank Stadium in Week 4.

I LOVE this roster, starting with the superb 1-2 punch at running back, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. With those two guys by his side, Baker Mayfield really had the light go on down the stretch of his third NFL campaign. Over his final 12 games of last season, including two playoff bouts, Mayfield threw 20 touchdown passes against just three interceptions. His play was inspiring. And he heads into the 2021 season with talent and depth at both wide receiver and tight end.

On defense, it all starts with the 6-foot-4, 272-pound force of nature in the No. 95 jersey. Myles Garrett is a bona fide game wrecker. I won't be the least bit surprised if he breaks the single-season sack record in 2021. And now Cleveland has another former No. 1 overall pick manning the opposite edge. Jadeveon Clowney said earlier this week that it took him eight years to find a teammate like Garrett. It's true. These two are nightmare fuel for opposing quarterbacks.

Schein's full rankings were as follows: Bills, Browns, Titans, Cardinals, Chargers, Vikings, Bengals, Falcons, Panthers.

U.S. Bank Stadium tops list of NFL stadium 'power rankings' by USA TODAY

The Vikings are thrilled to welcome fans back to U.S. Bank Stadium this fall after the COVID-19 pandemic prohibited attendance.

The cutting-edge venue has delivered an incredible game-day atmosphere since its opening in 2016, and that reputation will no doubt continue.

Mark Lane of USA TODAY Sports recently offered his takes on the NFL's "best home fields," ranking all 32 teams' stadiums and topped his lis with U.S. Bank Stadium. Lane wrote:

Stadiums are as much a part of the game as the players themselves.

The stadiums bring their own unique characteristics to the sport. After all, it isn't called "home-field advantage" for nothing.

In this ranking of NFL stadiums, such factors as fan participation are taken into consideration as well as architectural design and climate.

...

The Minnesota Vikings managed to get a venue that mimics having a retractable roof without actually opening it up and exposing the fans and players to the inhospitable Minneapolis weather. The stadium also provides iconic scenes of downtown. The exterior is a bit asymmetrical, but it is nevertheless one of the more visually appealing venues in all of sports.

Arizona's State Farm Stadium, where the Vikings are slated to play the Cardinals in Week 2, came in second on the list, and Lambeau Field was third.

One of the sacred grounds in all of pro football, the home stadium of the Green Bay Packers is on every football fan's bucket list to visit for at least one regular season game. The modern version has a nice blend of bench seating and luxury suites, bridging the generation gap of what football used to be and where the sport is now.

Click here to see the full rankings.

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