The Vikings can't help but be better than last year, they were an absolutely miserable team to watch last year. Their coaching staff was seemingly outmatched every week, their offensive and defensive philosophies were relic's of the past, their QB play was woefully insufficient and their defense couldn't stop anyone. Honestly, I don't think the problem last year was talent, I think most of it was the coaching. Leslie Frazier is a good man but he is not equipped to be an NFL head coach. I love the hiring of Mike Zimmer, he's a no nonsense, all business football guy, he's worked a long time to get this opportunity. I liken his hiring to the Bruce Arians hiring in Arizona last year, both were long time, well respected no-nonsense assistant coaches, both favor an aggressive attacking defenses, both want to stretch the field offensively, hopefully this hiring turns out as well as the Arians hiring did for the Cardinals. The Vikings desperately needed to ditch that cover-2 defense of Leslie Frazier, team's had figured out how to beat that years ago, in the games that the Vikings played less of it, they did play better. On the offensive side, Zimmer hired Norv Turner as his offensive coordinator, while Turner has struggled as a head coach, he is one of the great offensive coordinators in NFL history, I have tons of confidence that he will turn the Vikings offense around. As mentioned earlier, Turner favors an offense that stretches the field and gets the ball down the field, that's welcome news to me, I had grown tired of Bill Musgrave and his conservative play calling (which lead to teams continually stacking the box against the Vikings to stop Adrian Peterson). In Musgrave's defense, he was hamstrung with Christian Ponder as his QB, that didn't help matters. Speaking of Ponder, IMO he was the worst starting QB in the NFL last year, he really hasn't progressed much at all in his short time in the NFL. Where do I start with Ponder, he is a smart guy but it hasn't translated to the field, he holds onto the ball too long, often missing out on open receivers in the process, he also fails to keep his eyes downfield, and when he does look downfield he too often locks in on just his primary receiver, then when that primary receiver isn't open he is real quick to just dump the ball to his checkdown receiver or just tucked the ball in and run with it, his lack of arm strength was also a bit troubling, it was all just a recipe for disaster. The Vikings looked much better in games that Matt Cassel started last year and despite what Ron Jaworski says about him, I do think that he's a decent fit in Norv Turner's offense (at least for this upcoming season, as Teddy Bridgewater is obviously the QB of the future). Needless to say, I'm looking forward to this Vikings season more so than I have been in quite some time.
As for the Cardinals? I loved what I saw from Bruce Arians and the Cardinals last year. They were clearly the best team that didn't make the playoffs last year and they were playing their best football late in the season (let us not forget, they beat the eventual Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks on the road last year to close their season). I can only imagine that after a full year in Arians system, and a full year of practice and OTA's, they should be an even stronger team this year. Carson Palmer is a key for them again this coming season, he started last season really slow but as the season progressed, and he became more familiar with the offense and his receivers, things really clicked for him, if he can play this season like the did at the end of last season, the Cardinals could make some noise this season. Another key for Cardinals this upcoming season is the Linebacker position, Karlos Dansby left via free agency (signing with the Cleveland Browns) and Darryl Washington has been suspended for the upcoming season, those two were probably the Cardinals best defensive players last year, they will not be easily replaced. Kevin Minter is going to need to step up his game in his second season and they're going to have to hope that they can squeeze some additional life out of veterans Larry Foote & Ernie Sims. The last key I'll mention for the Cardinals is their OL, on paper, it should be the best the Cardinals have fielded in quite some time, especially if free agent signing Jared Veldheer lives up to his hype and if last years number 1 draft pick Jonathan Cooper can regain the form that made him a top 10 draft pick last year, keep an eye on this group. To summarize, I fully expect at least 10 wins and a playoff appearance out this Cardinals team. Bring it on!