NFL Survivor Pool Picks: Vikings Early-Season Outlook with Bradford at QB

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The Minnesota Vikings pulled off a blockbuster trade this morning to acquire veteran quarterback Sam Bradford from the Eagles. They paid a huge price, however, giving up their first-rounder next year and a fourth in 2018. This trade was necessary for the team after QB Teddy Bridgewater suffered a gruesome injury in practice last week, and is he now out for the year (his career may be in jeopardy as well).

While many NFL prognosticators claimed the Vikings’ season was over before it started, I was firmly against that notion, even before the Vikings pulled this big move. This team is a very talented club, and it’s not like Bridgewater was the second coming of Joe Montana or anything. He was an improving third-year quarterback that was still working to become the best player he could be. And nobody knows what his ceiling really was. But the Vikings have a lot of talent all over the field, from a young but strong wide receiver corps to a solid defense, and you can’t forget about Adrian Peterson, still one of the best running backs in the league even at 31, an age when pro football runners are usually well past their prime.

It was a fairly daunting situation that the Vikings were going to start the season with journeyman Shaun Hill at quarterback. Hill is a fine backup as he has plenty of NFL experience, but he is far from a franchise guy, and he’s not the kind of guy that can lead a team to the Super Bowl. But Bradford is. He was a No. 1 overall draft pick and I believe he has been more a victim of his surroundings than a huge disappointment in his career. This will be the most talented squad Bradford has quarterbacked, and sometimes a change of scenery is all a guy like this needs. Even though he played in a more up-tempo offense in Philly last year, Bradford had more yardage and touchdown passes than Bridgewater, and he played in two fewer games.

I was not as down on the Vikings as some other media members and oddsmakers after the Bridgewater injury. The point spread for their Week 1 matchup at Tennessee opened at Vikings -3 but lowered all the way to “pick’em” after the Bridgewater injury. I happily took the Vikings at this number for a 2-Unit wager as even without Bridgewater they are a much better team than Tennessee and should have picked up a win here on the road. Now they have Bradford. It’s uncertain if he will play Week 1. But Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner is a master, and Bradford is a smart guy, so with this pairing it is very possible that he does start Week 1. The oddsmakers seem to think so as the few books that have put the line for this game back up have the Vikings now at -2.

Unfortunately, this game against Tennessee was the only spot for Survivor Pool players to take the Vikings early in the season as they have a pretty tough schedule. I really don’t see a great spot to take them until Week 9 vs. Detroit. Maybe Week 8 at Chicago is a possibility if the Bears are really bad this season or Week 7 in Bradford’s return to Philly, but those are both road games (we try to stay away from road matchups for Survivor Pool picks whenever possible). Here is the Vikings schedule through Week 9:

Week 1 at Tennessee

Week 2 vs. Green Bay

Week 3 at Carolina

Week 4 vs. New York Giants

Week 5 vs. Houston

Week 6 BYE

Week 7 at Philadelphia

Week 8 at Chicago

Week 9 vs. Detroit

I would advise NFL Survivor Pool players that are thinking of taking the Vikings this week at Tennessee to be careful and think about that decision. We will probably know during the week leading up to the game if Bradford is going to play or not, but that is a very short time for him to learn the playbook and get on the same page with his offensive teammates. I have no doubt that Bradford will have a lot of success this season with the Vikings is he stays healthy, and this will be a great team to have available in later weeks for NFL Survivor Pools. But there may be some bumps in the road to start the season, and there will be plenty of better options on the board in the early weeks for these pools.