MINNEAPOLIS – This team quietly sits atop it’s division at 7-2, yet no one seems to be talking about them. This team has one of the NFL’s greatest running backs, a up-and-coming young quarterback, a blazing WR and an underrated defense.
Yet, no one seems to be giving them much love and attention.
Shadows in their own division, the Minnesota Vikings are quietly both a playoff team, and quietly making moves to take it over. Not to run the risk of getting Vikings fans more hyped up than they already are, but if the playoffs were to start next week, they would be the NFC’s No.3 seed and host the warm-blooded, dome-dwelling Atlanta Falcons in what would be a very chilly January day at TCF Bank Stadium
In the North, everyone talks seemingly ad naseum about Aaron Rodgers, Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford, Jay Cutler, etc. And rightfully so, as they are all big names who are—by and large—established playmakers.
But what about the Vikings?
Yes, they have the best running back in the NFL today in Adrian Peterson. But unless you live in the Twin Cities, it is commonly perceived that it is just him and a bunch of guys in purple uniforms and helmets with Viking horns on them. Make no mistake, thanks to second-year head coach Mike Zimmer and longtime offensive coordinator Norv Turner, the Vikings have evolved into a complete team.
The up-and-coming QB that I mentioned earlier in Teddy Bridgewater has gone so under-the-radar that he is Mr. Stealth.
What cannot be overlooked is his mobility and accuracy, as “Teddy Ballgame” has completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 1,810 yards, seven touchdowns, six interceptions and a passer rating of 84.6.
While Peterson has been his usual AD-like self in rushing for 961 yards on 195 rushes and five touchdowns, it is the emerging wide receiver duo of Charles Johnson and rookie Stefon Diggs who has developed into one of the NFL’s new deep threats in leading the Vikings in yards receiving (507) and touchdowns (2).
Did I fail to mention one of the best young and promising tight ends in the game in Kyle Rudolph? Yes, he is having a bit of a down year, but you know what they say about the tight end being a quarterbacks best friend, right?
Remember all the hype about the addition of Mike Wallace? Yeah, neither do I, as he has been mostly an afterthought.
What about Minnesota’s defense you ask? Well, They have a nice—and as I stated, very underrated—4-3 defense led by Everson Griffen, Chad Greenway, Anthony Barr, Harrison Smith and Terence Newman, all of which has the fingerprints of their head coach Mike Zimmer written all over it.
As a life-long Browns fan, I am very familiar with Zimmer’s defenses when he was the defensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals. Clearly, he has taken his unique brand of fast edge-pass rushers, stout defensive line and having a ball-hawking secondary up to the Land Of 10,000 Lakes in transforming the Vikings into one of the top overall defenses in the NFL (8th overall (336.6), seventh in passing yards allowed(228.0) and 15th in rushing yards allowed (108.0).
In quietly building the Vikings his way, Minnesota is young, talented and likely to be a contender for the NFC North crown every year.
With the aforementioned—and long-time nemesis—Rodgers and the much-hated Green Bay Packers coming to town, the Vikings are close to fulfilling their quest—see the Johnny Drama Viking Quest reference there!—to staking their claim as the new kings of the NFC North!