This article is part of our Team Previews series.
STATE OF THE FRANCHISEThe Vikings could be a playoff contender in 2015 with the return of Adrian Peterson, a promising quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater and with improvements on defense under coach Mike Zimmer.
Despite getting just one game out of Peterson in his first season as the team's head coach, Zimmer led the Vikings from a 5-10-1 mark in 2013 to a 7-9 showing in 2014. Peterson was essentially suspended for the season after the first game when child abuse charges against him came to light. He later pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of reckless assault for disciplining his child with a switch. Despite talk in the offseason that he may hold out and seek a new contract, and amid some bad feelings over how he felt the Vikings handled the suspension, Peterson reported to OTAs in June.
The Vikings made a major change at quarterback early in the 2014 season as No. 32 overall pick Bridgewater took over for an injured Matt Cassel in Week 4. Improvements that Bridgewater displayed over his last six games as a rookie cemented his status as the team's starter.
Without Peterson, the Vikings turned the running game over to Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata. McKinnon showed promise with a 4.8 YPC before a season-ending back injury in Week 12. Asiata didn't hold up well as a primary ballcarrier (3.5 YPC), but showed prowess as a goal-line back (nine TDs) and as a pass-catcher. But both will take