What’s the difference between an 8-5 record and a 6-7 record? The simple answer would be two wins. Two games separate the Vikings, who are currently 8-5, from a pack of 6-7 teams “in the hunt” for the NFC’s sixth playoff spot. But two games also separate the Vikings from a familiar face — their 2014 counterparts.
At this time last year, the Vikings were 6-7 and eliminated from playoff contention. They’d go on to lose two of their final three games and finish the season at 7-9. Respectable, given the year-long absence of Adrian Peterson and the arrival of first-year coach Mike Zimmer, but not enough to push them into January. It was a season that, despite a losing record, inspired hope in the Minnesota fanbase and promised future success.
This season, the Vikings have built on what made them successful in 2014 and sit firmly entrenched in the NFC playoff picture. Two more wins through 13 games may not seem like a major leap, but these Vikings are a much improved team for a number of reasons. From the emergence of the defense to the return of Peterson, Minnesota has a chance to finish the year with 11 wins and play their first meaningful postseason football since 2012. Will they hit double digits in the win column, or will they flounder to end the season as they did last year?