When Jared Allen visited the "Dave Dameshek Football Program" on Tuesday, the Vikings pass rusher laid out his argument for Minnesota returning to the playoffs this season. In an NFC North that promises to be a rugged ride from wire to wire, Allen pointed to the presence of the planet's best running back.
"I think for the simple fact that we have a guy like Adrian Peterson," Allen said. "You know, in this league, everybody wants to say it's about the quarterbacks, it's about the passing, because everybody passes, right? Well, I still believe there's room for old-school football, where you can run the ball and you can control the clock, and especially late in the season, where you can wear teams down."
That worked last season, but in a division with Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler and nouveau riche Matthew Stafford, do the Vikings stand a chance without a proven top-flight passer? Signing wide receiver Greg Jennings away from the Green Bay Packers and drafting Cordarrelle Patterson should help the air attack, but questions still swirl around the sluggish development of quarterback Christian Ponder.
"Yeah, we need consistent play out of the quarterback position," Allen said. "We need to be able to throw the ball to open up the passing game ... but to have that consistency, to be able to have a guy (Peterson) that you know can put 100 (yards) on you, and maybe 200 the way he ran last year ... the opposing team's game plan, they have to prepare (for) both."
Said Allen: "When we play the Packers, we pretty much know that they're going to be one-dimensional. And, as hard as it is to stop Aaron Rodgers and that receiving corps, at least you can game plan for it. Now that we have Greg Jennings -- and you look at the season Kyle Rudolph had, and if our young guys are anything what they looked like in camp -- then we're going to be duel-threat offensively."
The Vikings have grown more versatile on paper, but the Packers don't figure to be a one-trick pony, either. Drafting two running backs -- Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin -- boosted a once weak group of ballcarriers. The Packers arguably have improved their offense, a scary notion, but Allen believes his Vikings can hang in the NFC North -- and that's why we play the game in the first place.
Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.