The Minnesota Vikings are set to see the debut of the Kevin O’Connell era on Sunday afternoon against the Green Bay Packers.
With the Vikings having such a wide range of projections across the media landscape, nobody really knows what is going to happen with this team.
There are a lot of different predictions across the board and we are about to join them.
Here are three bold predictions for the 2022 Minnesota Vikings season.
Danielle Hunter and Za'Darius Smith combine for 30+ sacks
Jul 29, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings outside linebackers Danielle Hunter (99) and Za’Darius Smith (55) warm up during training camp at US Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
With both players coming off of major injuries, there is some doubt that they will stay healthy. If they do find a way to stay on the field all season, the potential is boundless.
Both Hunter (14.5) and Smith (13.5) haven’t been able to top 15 sacks but neither has had a running mate with talent that is comparable to their own.
This defense will be excellent for both players, especially with creativity. Former Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer started using Hunter in the A-gap and debuted the look during the wild card game against the New Orleans Saints.
With Smith, the Packers have used him a lot on the inside. It was one of the main reasons the Packers won the division in 2019 because Smith wreaked havoc on the Vikings interior.
In a 17 game season, 15 sacks each should be attainable for each player but for both to accomplish would be a best-case scenario season.
K.J. Osborn will surpass Adam Thielen as WR2
Jan 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17) catches a pass for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears in the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
After being drafted in the fifth round of 2020 as a punt returner, Osborn has made himself into a really talented wide receiver.
Going into training camp last year, Osborn was firmly on the roster bubble. Once camp started, it was clear that Osborn dedicated his life to becoming a better receiver. He exploded early on, including a 75-yard touchdown in week two against Arizona.
With Thielen about to be on the decline due to his age, Osborn is primed to step into the WR2 spot. With his ability to maneuver in space and much-improved route running, Osborn could be in for a big season where he could end up with 1,000 yards and upwards of 10 touchdowns.
Ed Ingram makes the all-rookie team
Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler (32) celebrates with Minnesota Vikings guard Ed Ingram (67) after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
The Vikings issues at right guard have been well documented, especially in this space. Once we saw Ingram on the field, that problem looked to be gone for good.
During the preseason, he was dominant. Stout in pass protection and actively looking for defenders to hit when he doesn’t have anyone to block. He drives defenders into the ground regularly.
The only sack he allowed in the preseason was against Javon Kinlaw where he overset himself to the right and Kinlaw beat him to the inside. That can be fixed pretty easily. With a great season, he could easily be a first-team all rookie guard.
Solidifying the right guard position will be massively impactful for the Vikings.