Sidney Rice out until midseason – are the Vikings in store for a fall?

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 24: Sidney Rice #18 of the Minnesota Vikings makes a reception against Randall Gay #20 of the New Orleans Saints during the NFC Championship Game at the Louisiana Superdome on January 24, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints won 31-28 in overtime. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

It’s only one player – a receiver, mind you. And even though this particular receiver caught 83 passes for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns last season, he’s still only a receiver.

The Vikings can get by without Sidney Rice, who has elected to undergo hip surgery and is expected to miss half of the regular season. They still have Adrian Peterson, a solid offensive line, an excellent defense and an above average linebacker corps. And even though Rice was a huge part of their offense last season, Brett Favre has a habit of turning previously no-named receivers into Pro Bowlers.

Just look at Rice himself.

But even though the Vikings made it to the NFC Championship Game last season with practically the same roster, does anyone else get the sense that this team is in store for a freefall this year?

Favre is another year older and is coming off ankle surgery. Rice is out until midseason. Percy Harvin’s migraines are already holding him back. Peterson presumably still has fumbling issues. Versatile backup Chester Taylor is in Chicago. The secondary still has question marks. Etc.

Oh yeah, and Brad Childress is still in charge.

Even before Rice was hurt, I liked the Packers’ chances more than I did the Vikings. Assuming their offensive line holds up, they seem to be a more complete football team right now than the Vikings, whom everyone will be gunning for this season after they ripped apart the competition last year. That’s not to say that Minnesota isn’t a playoff contender because it is. I just don’t get the sense that this team is built to hold up for an entire 16-game season.

Again, Rice is only one player and I’m certainly not suggesting that because he’s out that the Vikings will crumble. But does anyone have more confidence in them right now than the Saints, Cowboys or Packers? I could see the Vikes racing out to a decent start but fading down the stretch. And I have zero faith in Childress to keep everything together.

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