Making The Case: Minnesota
The Vikings haven’t been to a Super Bowl since 1977. Is this the year?
Okay, I have a confession to make, I honestly don’t think the Vikings have much of a chance of any of winning the Super Bowl. I feel like Matthew McConaughey’s character in Lincoln Lawyer when he realizes his client is guilty and there’s not much he can do about it. I’m going to channel the defense attorney in myself, if that person exists, and make the very best case possible that the Vikings can win the Lombardi Trophy.
I do like this Vikings roster and the direction that it is trending is obviously positive, but to be frank at this moment in time their offense is completely one-sided. In terms of yards per game they rank 31st in passing yards and 4th in rushing yards. Teddy Bridgewater will be an elite quarterback, but he’s not quite there and the weapons outside just aren’t in enough abundance to allow him to show off his true talents. Adrian Peterson is a freak, there’s nothing new there, but he will need to be more than that for them to be able to make a run at the ever elusive Lombardi Trophy.
Here’s where I think this team really shines, and that’s on the defensive side of the football. The Vikings rank 13th in yards allowed and 5th in points against. Mike Zimmer, no surprise, has taken a good defense and made them absolutely great. They get to the passer, their linebackers tackle well and play their assignments, and their corners play play smart and with poise. In order to win against the Seahawks and continue to win, this defense will come up against some of the best quarterbacks in the league and will need to suppress some prolific offenses.
The Vikings are a good team, and will continue to get better as they grow together. Their biggest hurdle this season is the teams they are going to come up against. They kick off the playoffs against the red-hot Seattle Seahawks. If they beat the Seahawks they would then face arguably the best team in the league in Arizona, and then potentially Green Bay or Carolina. Let’s just say the deck is stacked against Minnesota.
In order to win those games the Vikings must play the best stretch of offensive football in terms of balance in the rushing and passing game that they have all season. Their defense just need to play par for the course. That defense is good enough to take the ball away and minimize the effect the other teams’ offenses could have on the games. They cannot afford to turn the ball over and they must be a takeaway defense.
The path will be hard, but it’s not impossible.
Offensive X Factor: Stefon Diggs – Diggs’ production has slipped of late, only 16 catches since Thanksgiving, but his speed can be a game breaker.
Defensive X Factor: Harrison Smith – Head coach Mike Zimmer says “He’s tough. He’s one of our better players, and when he’s out there he kind of settles things down quite a bit.”
Overall Factor: Turnover Ratio – Minnesota is +8 in turnovers in their 11 wins, -3 in their five losses.