Vikings fans received some unwelcome news on Monday when star running back Dalvin Cook announced that he is officially holding out. A source told ESPN's Adam Schefter, "Without a reasonable extension, [Cook] will not be showing up for camp or beyond." Cook has one year for $1.3 million left on his contract. Last season, his third in the NFL, Cook rushed for 1,135 yards and 13 touchdowns.
The Vikings are coming off a successful 2019 season in which they went 10-6 and upset the Saints in the wild-card round. With quarterback Kirk Cousins finally getting the "big game" monkey off his back, Minnesota looks to take another step forward in 2020, hopefully with Cook in the fold.
It has been a busy offseason for the Vikings. They lost several starters via trade and free agency, including wide receiver Stefon Diggs cornerbacks Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander and Xavier Rhodes, plus defensive linemen Linval Joseph and Everson Griffin. But Minnesota did a great job of retooling, adding former Ravens defensive tackle Michael Pierce and then drafting a pair of first-round picks in LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson and TCU cornerback Jeff Gladney.
The Vikings have steadily improved in Cousins' two seasons with the team, going from 8-7-1 in 2018 to 10-6 last season. What should bettors expect from Cousins in Year 3?
Minnesota's 2020 win total is 8.5 with heavy over juice. DraftKings is hanging over 8.5 at -150 (under + 123). FanDuel is offering over 8.5 at -235 (under + 115). CircaSports is even more bullish on the Vikes, hanging a win total of 9 (over + 105, under -125).
In other words, oddsmakers are forcing bettors to pay an expensive price on the over 8.5 wins because smart money views Minnesota as a 9-7 or better team in 2020.
One disadvantage that Minnesota must overcome this season: Its schedule. The Vikings' 2020 opponents went a combined 131-123-2 (.516) in 2019, giving Minnesota the 10th-hardest schedule in the NFL.
Here is the full Vikings' schedule
Week 1: vs Packers
Week 2: at Colts
Week 3: vs Titans
Week 4: at Texans
Week 5: at Seahawks
Week 6: vs Falcons
Week 7: Bye
Week 8: at Packers
Week 9: vs Lions
Week 10: at Bears
Week 11: vs Cowboys
Week 12: vs Panthers
Week 13: vs Jaguars
Week 14: at Buccaneers
Week 15: vs Bears
Week 16: at Saints
Week 17: at Lions
According to the oddsmakers, Minnesota is expected to return to the postseason in 2020. The Vikings are a -143 favorite to make the playoffs at DraftKings and a + 118 dog to miss the playoffs.
The Vikings are the favorite to win the NFC North. Minnesota is + 150, followed by the Packers + 170, Bears + 425 and Lions + 600.
Minnesota has the sixth-best odds to win the NFC at + 1100, trailing the 49ers + 500, Saints + 600, Bucs + 700, Cowboys + 850 and Eagles + 1000. The Vikings are + 2500 to win the Super Bowl.
If you're interested in player props, Kirk Cousins' over/under passing yards this season is 3,800.5 and passing touchdowns 24.5. Last season Cousins threw for 3,603 yards and 26 touchdowns. Cousins is + 6600 to win MVP.