Vikings' scariest pitfall to overcome on 2024 NFL schedule (2024)

The Minnesota Vikings have several huge challenges as they prepare for the 2024 season. Just two years ago, this team was the runaway winner of the NFC North title, but that seems like a distant memory at this point. The division has become one of the strongest in football and most observers expect the Vikings to either finish fourth or battle the Chicago Bears for third place.

The Detroit Lions are the defending champions and should be a legitimate threat to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. The Green Bay Packers found their stride under quarterback Jordan Love, and they were one of the better teams in the league by the time the season came to its conclusion. Not only did the Packers make the playoffs, but they delivered a significant beat down on the road to the heavily favored Dallas Cowboys.

The Packers are likely to challenge the Lions for the division title. The Bears look like a much-improved team. They had the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft and selected quarterback Caleb Williams of USC. There were six quarterbacks selected within the first 12 picks of the draft and Williams was ranked at the top. The Bears are hoping that he can develop quickly and mesh with their improved wide receiver crew.

Vikings have multiple challenges

While those three teams look formidable, the Vikings go into the 2024 season without an established quarterback and without their best pass rusher. Edge rusher Danielle Hunter left through free agency as did quarterback Kirk Cousins.

If the Vikings are going to be successful this season, they are hoping that veteran quarterback Sam Darnold can do a solid job while rookie J.J. McCarthy gets ready to take over as the team's QB1. This is clearly very important, but it is not the team's most important issue.

The Vikings have drafted McCarthy for the long run. If it takes him a full season to prepare and he doesn't become the team's starter until the 2025 season, that would be fine. As long as Darnold is average or better in the 2024 season, that could keep the team afloat.

The Vikings are likely to be underdogs in most of the games they play. If their opponents don't respect their talent, they may have the ability to sneak up on them and become somewhat dangerous.

In addition to a new quarterback, the Vikings are hoping to get used to new defensive personnel. While they no longer have Hunter and his 16.5 sacks, they signed three key free agents and drafted defensive end Dallas Turner.

The Vikings added Andrew Van Ginkel, Blake Cashman and Jonathan Greenard to make up for the loss of Hunter. If defensive coordinator Brian Flores can find a way to knit them all together, the Vikings defense may become a strength of the team.

Flores was hired prior to the 2023 season and the Vikings went from having the 31st-ranked defense to a middle of the pack 16th-ranked unit. Flores has had success coaching defenses throughout his career, and this could be another huge opportunity for him.

Justin Jefferson contract represents potential pitfall for Vikings

Justin Jefferson is one of the two or three best receivers in the NFL and he is clearly the best player on the Vikings. He is going into his fifth season with the team and he will be eligible to become a free agent at the end of the season.

Throughout the last two seasons, Jefferson has talked about how much he has enjoyed being a part of the Vikings franchise, and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has reciprocated with positive remarks about Jefferson and what he means to the team.

Head coach Kevin O'Connell is an offensive guru who excels at designing plays for his quarterback and his star receiver. O'Connell knows that the Vikings can be an incredibly dangerous team with Jefferson on the field.

It is in the Vikings' best interest to get Jefferson's name on a new contract or it could have a huge impact on the entire 2024 schedule. The fact that they have not executed a new deal at this point is troubling. The longer it goes in the offseason — and potentially into the season — could be disastrous for the Vikings.

Jefferson is a devastating weapon on the field and well-liked and respected in the locker room. It would be smart to remove all doubt and get Jefferson signed to an extension as soon as possible.

Jefferson had a remarkable season in 2022, catching 128 passes for 1,809 yards with 8 touchdowns. Injuries limited Jefferson to 10 games last season, but he still had 68 receptions for 1,074 yards and 5 touchdowns.

The Vikings don't want any uncertainty to linger with Jefferson in what looks like a challenging season. As a result, he needs to be signed quickly.

Vikings' scariest pitfall to overcome on 2024 NFL schedule (2024)

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