The Minnesota Vikings, who are now 3-0, are not getting the respect they deserve. They are one of the five remaining undefeated teams in the NFL. They also have held the last two MVP quarterbacks to 475 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions.
The Vikings have been carried by what I believe is a top-three defense in the NFL. This past Sunday they sacked Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton eight times in a 22-10 win on the road against last year’s Super Bowl runner-up. This was coming off a week where they took down Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers five times en route to a 17-14 win. The Vikings now lead the league in sacks with 15 and are on pace to get 80 on the season and shatter the 1984 Bears record of 72.
Minnesota also leads the league in most points scored by the defense with 16. That includes a pick six and fumble return for a touchdown in week one against the Tennessee Titans. They also got a safety on Sunday against the Panthers. The Vikings also lead the league in turnover ratio by having nine takeaways and only one giveaway.
Some other statistics that solidify them as one of the league’s top defenses: they are sixth in yards per game given up, first in yards given up per play and third in points given up per game. The Panthers were coming out of a game in which they put up 41 points on the San Francisco 49ers while the Packers scored 34 against the Lions on Sunday.
You would think that after making Aaron Rodgers have one of his worst games of his career and sacking Cam Newton eight times, the second most in his career, the national media would respect this defense. Well you’re wrong.
After the Packers game, all the national media was talking about was how Aaron Rodgers just had an off game and is in a slump. Then after the Panthers game all they talked about was how Cam Newton and the Panthers were distracted by the protesting that was going on outside of the stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.
These games are not fluke performances ladies and gentlemen. This defense has all the pieces put together to be the best in the league.
It all starts with their Head Coach Mike Zimmer who is now in his third season. Zimmer took over a team that in 2014 was last in points given up and second to last in yards given up in the previous season. He pressures the quarterback unlike any other coach in the NFL by drawing up exotic blitzes.
With the likes of Harrison Smith, who is the top safety in the NFL, Anthony Barr, who is arguably the best outside linebacker in the league and Everson Griffin who is second in the league in sacks. This defense is top notch at every level.
Minnesota Vikings fans were definitely bummed out when they learned that starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater would be done for the year with a knee injury. Then last week things got worse when star running back Adrian Peterson went down with a knee injury of his own and will be out for at least half of the season.
This defense has brought fans hope.
I truly believe that with this defense anything is possible. Yes, that includes a Super Bowl. Look at the past three Super Bowl Champions. Seattle, New England and Denver. They all were in the top ten in most of the defensive statistical categories. Denver and Seattle lead the league in total defense. The other thing that those two teams have in common is average quarterback play. Seattle and New England also had an excellent turnover ratio.
These are things that the 2016 Minnesota Vikings are doing an excellent job at. I’m not guaranteeing a Super Bowl win or even a trip to the Super Bowl, but I think it’s time the rest of the NFL and national media give this defense and team some respect.
Andrew Holtan is a journalism major at SDSU and can be reached at [email protected]