The Minnesota Vikings are 5-0 heading into their bye week, and they’re the last undefeated team left in the NFL.
Philadelphia lost to Detroit and Denver lost to Atlanta on Sunday. That means when the NFL power rankings come out this week, the Vikings are likely No. 1.
The Vikings beat the Houston Texans 31-13 on Sunday. They took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and were never seriously threatened in their third victory at U.S. Bank Stadium.
How they’re 5-0 is what’s most impressive about their start to the season after winning the NFC North last year. Teddy Bridgewater, Adrian Peterson and Matt Kalil are all out for the season with injuries. Stefon Diggs, one of the NFL’s top receivers through four games, couldn’t play Sunday due to a groin injury. An already thin offensive line lost another player as Brandon Fusco went out early and didn’t’ return because of a concussion.
The Vikings haven’t been 5-0 since the 2009 season, when Brett Favre was leading the offense. We all know how that season ended, heartbreak in New Orleans. Twelve men in the huddle out of a timeout (How does that happen?) and Favre throwing across his body for an interception (the most Vikings thing ever).
Take a look at the schedule, and things start to line up for this season to be something special.
The Vikings have an elite defense that’s taking them to the next level. They’ve beaten Marcus Mariota, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Eli Manning and now Brock Osweiler. Next up is rookie Carson Wentz and there is all sorts of irony there. He’s a rookie and is only playing because the Vikings traded for Sam Bradford after Bridgewater’s devastating knee injury.
Bradford is now playing like he could be the long-term quarterback for the Vikings. In five games, he has zero turnovers. None. The Texans are one of the NFL’s top passing defenses even without J.J. Watt, and Bradford did pretty much whatever he wanted Sunday, throwing for 271 yards and two scores.
Wentz is off to a great start as a rookie, but he hasn’t seen a defense like the Vikings yet. After the Eagles, the Vikings travel to the Bears, host the Lions, travel to the Redskins and host the Cardinals before facing the Lions again on Thanksgiving.
The Vikings are dominating on defense, having not allowed more than 16 points in a game this season. They’re stuffing the run and getting quarterbacks flustered if not sacked. The secondary has shut down the likes of Kelvin Benjamin, Jordy Nelson, Odell Beckham Jr. and Sunday, limited DeAndre Hopkins and rookie Will Fuller. Hopkins had five catches and a touchdown, but wasn’t a factor in the game until it was well in hand.
The Vikings are getting better on offense every week, despite a battered offensive line. Even Blair Walsh was perfect on Sunday. Cordarrelle Patterson caught four passes, including a touchdown on Sunday. He caught two passes all of last year, suddenly now he’s a factor. Adam Thielen had his best career game as a receiver with Diggs out.
But they’re only 5-0. There are 11 games left. The die-hard Vikings fans need to make a decision if they haven’t already.
Is it time to go all-in on this team and get emotionally invested? Or will we keep one toe in the shallow end and wait for inevitable disaster to strike?
We’ve gone all in twice before and had our hearts broken. That’s why it’s so difficult to make this decision now. The Vikings are 0-4 in Super Bowls. There was Gary Anderson, who hadn’t missed all year, going wide left in the 1999 NFC title game. Then, the heartbreak in New Orleans.
But this Vikings team is different. It has a dominant defense, and the offense is more balanced without the demand to give Adrian Peterson enough snaps. Most of all, it’s the coaching that has gotten this team to where it’s at despite all the key injuries.
Mike Zimmer has said it best to his players: They haven’t done anything yet. Being 5-0 and the last unbeaten team is great, but it doesn’t win you division titles or a Super Bowl. The players love Zimmer, they’re saying all the right things and most importantly, it’s translating on the field.
It might be time to go all-in on this Vikings team.