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NFL PREVIEWS: Minnesota Vikings

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Champs or chumps: It depends through which lens you want to view this team. If you're looking at the on the football field, if you're judging their competitive merits, the word "champion" would not come to mind. If this team is still competing for a playoff spot entering the final three weeks of the season it would be a shock.

Now, if you want to see how Minnesota stacks up in the realm of reality TV ... a receiver who nudges meter maids down the road during rush hour, unseemly behavior during off-season charity events, a coach who lets a couple of teams jump ahead of him in the draft before making a pick. Who needs the Osbornes or Queer Eye for the Straight Guy? Give me a camera crew and we'll follow the away from the field.

Meet the 2003
Projected offensive lineup
WR
LT
LG
C
RG
RT
TE
WR
QB
RB
H-back James Lynch

Projected defensive lineup
LE
DT
DT
RE
SLB
MLB
WLB
CB
CB
SS
FS

Projected special teams lineup
K Hayden Epstein
P
KR
PR
LS

Scout's take on the Vikings
"Potentially, this is an outstanding offense. The Vikings have a diverse group of weapons in the passing game, whether it¿s WR Randy Moss or TE Jimmy Kleinsasser."
— Scouting insider Brian DeLucia

More on the
  • Vikings team page
  • Roster | Depth chart
  • Schedule | NFL on FOX schedule
  • Vikings fantasy news
  • Reasons for hope: has made himself an easy target for criticism with his comments — how he doesn't go all out on every play — and his churlish behavior. More important, he's made himself an easy target for quarterback . Moss is the first receiver in league history to go for 1,000 or more yards in each of his first five seasons in the league. Culpepper-to-Moss is arguably the most explosive combination in the NFC and one that should keep giving for years to come.

    Don't get too excited: The injury to running back throws Minnesota's potent offense out of whack. Remember, the led the league in rushing last season, averaging nearly 157 yards a game. Losing Bennett removes a vital dimension from the offense and allows opponents to key on Moss and Culpepper. But the real problem for Minnesota is defense. The don't force turnovers, rarely get to the quarterback and allowed more points (442) than all but two teams in the league last season. Minnesota must make major strides on defense just to find its way to the middle of the NFL pack.

    Hello, my name is: . He's not one of the flashier cornerbacks in the league. We're not talking about a Pro Bowl player here. But Walker has been a starter in this league and a solid player for six years, first with Tennessee and then Denver. He provides stability for what has been a dismal secondary. Walker won't shut down the other team's top receivers, but he should help limit the number of big plays that have tormented the in recent years.

    Revolving door: Minnesota really didn't lose anyone of consequence. The other side of that coin is they didn't pick up a lot in free agency, either. Walker is an upgrade at cornerback, will help at linebacker and the acquisition of right tackle allows Minnesota to move to his natural position of left guard. Those are the only three free-agent acquisitions that should step in and start.

    Ones to watch: No matter how bad things are going, Minnesota always seems to beat Green Bay and in a bizarre game at the Metrodome. The date this season is Nov. 2. A marquee matchup of Moss vs. cornerback is on tap when the travel to the West Coast for a game against Oakland on Nov. 16. The first team to 35 may win on Nov. 30 against St. Louis and Dec. 20 against Kansas City.

    The forecast: Moss will say or do something stupid. He will also make plenty of defensive backs look stupid. Culpepper will be dynamic one week and dreadful the next. The will be as inconsistent as their two top players and flirt with disaster more than they will a playoff spot. Veteran NFL correspondent David Moore is a regular contributor to FOXSports.com.

    Tagged: Packers, Raiders, Vikings, Denard Walker, Henri Crockett, Brett Favre, Charles Woodson, Kenny Mixon, Randy Moss, Michael Bennett, Fred Robbins, Matt Birk, Jim Kleinsasser, Daunte Culpepper, Bryant McKinnie, Willie Offord

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