The Minnesota Vikings are winning. They’re doing it with a combination of timely passing, a strong running game, and the ability to bend, but not break on defense. The Vikings have won five games in a row for the first time since 2009 and sit atop the NFC North at 7-2. They’re getting it done on the field. The Vikings are slowly gaining respect, as they continue to win.
Teddy Bridgewater wasn’t supposed to start Sunday. Just the week before, he suffered a concussion and was listed as day-to-day. He fought through the fog and effectively guided the Vikings to a 30-14 victory over the Raiders on the road. His bounce back exemplifies the toughness that the Vikings are showing opponents.
The recognition and respect is slow to come. But that’s outside of Vikings Country.
Though the Vikings are in sole possession of the NFC North, the Packers are breathing down their necks. Minnesota has a one game lead over the Packers and will be hosting them at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday. The Purple and Gold know the importance of the game. After all, it’s Packers Week. Things are going good for the Vikings. They moved into the top five on every power ranking list except CBS Sports. That’s probably why Head Coach Mike Zimmer was handing out t-shirts to his players.
“I think our players will know this is a big game,” Zimmer stated, via the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “I don’t think I’ll have to pull out any magic wands or anything like that. I think they’ll understand. But, to me, it’s all about preparation. How you prepare. Make sure you focus. Like I told the team today, ‘One day, one week, one game.’ That’s all we worry about.”
The Vikings are leading the NFC North and Zimmer wants the team and fans to realize the importance of what is happening. He understands that the media has denied the Vikings respect. He realizes that the buzz is all about how the Vikings have played a soft schedule. He took a huge jab at those rumors.
“People said we were the worst 6-2 team, it was, a week ago. We were the least impressive 6-2 team. I can’t worry about what other people think. I just worry about how my players play and the effort they give. If we’re not impressive and we keep winning, more power to us.”
That’s the bottom line in the NFL. It’s not how you win the games, it’s how many you win. Ugly wins put a “W” on the board just like pretty victories.
As long as the Vikings can play balanced football, the division is theirs to lose. The Packers are reeling. Aaron Rodgers and company are coming off three straight losses. Their Week 10 loss to the Detroit Lions was a heartbreaker that could have been avoided. They’ll be looking to take that frustration out on the division leaders.
The Vikings’ running game is scary.
Adrian Peterson, who recorded his sixth career 200 yard rushing game in Week 10, is first in the NFL with 961 rushing yards and has added five touchdowns on the ground. Peterson currently has 11,151 career rushing yards and trails O.J. Simpson (11,236) by 85 yards for No. 20 all-time. As a team, the Vikings rank first in rushing yards per game with a 147.2 mark. Peterson is actually ahead of his 2012 MVP year pace. That could mean big trouble for the Packers and the rest of the defenses that have to face the Vikings.
“Don’t believe everything you hear, don’t believe everything you see,” Bridgewater confided about Zimmer’s teachings. “We can’t buy into the newspaper clippings and things like that. We have to continue to stay grounded and continue to work hard.”
The Vikings should get respect for the football Zen that Zimmer has installed. It’s creating a powerhouse.
[Feature Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]