For a majority of people that root for an NFL team, they are used to their favorite squad either being a consistent winner or a consistent loser. Occasionally their team will have a random season on the other end of the spectrum, but for most, the outcomes usually stay the same each and every year.
However, no team in the league is as good at ripping the hearts out of their fans’ chests and then immediately scheduling an emergency heart transplant like the Minnesota Vikings are.
The Storm They Never Saw Coming
The punches to the gut began for the Vikings in 2016 before the regular season even began when the team lost their starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for the entire year to a gruesome knee injury. Then shortly after, Minnesota had a new starter under center after the team traded for Sam Bradford.
Surely everything would settle down once the Vikings were able hit the field and play some actual football right? Wrong again.
These Guys Are Pretty Good
Minnesota began their 2016 season in the state of Tennessee and found themselves down 10-0 at the half to a rambunctious group of young Titans.
But the Vikings’ own group of young players pulled together to score 25 points in the second half including two touchdowns from their swarming defense. Minnesota got the Week 1 victory and their fans got a taste of just how good the Vikings’ defense could be in 2016.
For their next game, Minnesota not only unveiled their brand new home at U.S. Bank Stadium to a national television audience, but their new starting quarterback in Bradford as well.
Fueled by a deafening crowd and speedy young receiver in Stefon Diggs (nine catches, 182 yards, one touchdown), the Vikings were able to beat the rival Green Bay Packers 17-14 and remain unbeaten for the season. Unfortunately, Minnesota lost star running back Adrian Peterson to a torn meniscus during their win over the Packers as well.
Just another hill for the 2016 Vikings to overcome.
In the NFL’s third week of the season, Minnesota had the tall task of facing the league’s 2015 MVP in Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. But based on how the Vikings made Newton look, viewers of the game might have wondered if the quarterback was playing in his very first game of football.
Minnesota brought down Newton eight times in their Week 3 matchup and intercepted him three times on their way to a 22-10 win over the defending NFC Conference Champions.
A Team to Be Reckoned With
Despite not having the luxury of their starting quarterback or running back in their lineup, the Vikings looked one of the league’s best teams after the first three weeks of the season.
Minnesota continued their run of success during an easy 24-10 victory over the New York Giants in Week 4. Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon had his best game of the season against the Giants, gaining 95 total yards and scoring one touchdown on 21 touches.
Oh and of course New York’s diva wide receiver in Odell Beckham Jr. was straight up shut down by Minnesota cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Needless to say, Beckham did not enjoy his time in the Twin Cities.
In their second straight home game, Minnesota welcomed the Houston Texans to their new home that some may refer to as a palace.
Before anyone could say trap game, the Vikings stormed out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back as they won by a final score of 31-13.
Say Goodbye to That Early Season Success
After beginning the year 5-0 for the first time since the 2009 season, Minnesota was riding high heading into their Week 6 bye. But that success would quickly turn to adversity as the Vikings headed to play Bradford’s former team in the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 7.
After a crazy start by both teams (combined for eight turnovers on the day), the Eagles were able to fend off Minnesota and hand the Vikings their first loss of the season. Perhaps, slashing the throats of innocent stuffed animals was not the best of motivational tactics.
Some uncharacteristic errors led to Minnesota’s first loss of 2016, but the team and its fans felt like they could get back on track in Week 8 with a matchup against the 1-6 Chicago Bears on Halloween night.
However, the Bears welcomed back quarterback Jay Cutler to the starting lineup for their game versus the Vikings and Cutler jumps for joy whenever he sees the team in purple is making a trip to the Windy City. Minnesota ended up playing like the team that had only won a single game in 2016 and actually ended up suffering a 20-10 loss to Chicago.
Following the surprising loss to the Bears, the Vikings were handed another surprise as offensive coordinator Norv Turner announced his resignation from the team. The move was not one the team apparently saw coming but once again, it was just another obstacle Minnesota would have to do their best to overcome in the 2016 season.
In their first game with Pat Shurmur calling the plays for the offense, the Vikings looked more like the team that won their first five games when they played the Detroit Lions in Week 9. However it still was not enough for Minnesota to snap their losing streak as the Lions left U.S. Bank Stadium as the victors after a 22-16 overtime stunner.
Eight games into their 2016 season, the Vikings are still holding on to first place in the NFC North with a 5-3 record. Emphasis on the “holding on” part of the last sentence.