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Four Vikings Selected to 2017 NFL Pro Bowl

In the face of a late-season slide, fans are quick to forget the Minnesota Vikings’ success at the beginning of the year. Led by Mike Zimmer’s dominant defense and a handful of stellar individual performances, the Vikings coasted to a 5-0 start. Fortunately for Minnesota, Pro Bowl voting fell right at the end of that winning streak.

The NFL’s annual voting opened in the middle of October, and those who voted — fans, coaches, and players — came out in droves for Minnesota’s defensive stars. This year, the Vikings are sending four players to Orlando, Florida, including Harrison Smith, Cordarrelle Patterson, Everson Griffen, and first-time selection Xavier Rhodes. Smith, Patterson, and Griffen will each be making their second trip to the Pro Bowl.

Xavier Rhodes

Before the season began, Sam Neumann questioned whether Rhodes was a shutdown corner. Sam’s speculation was warranted, but in his fourth season, the former Florida State cornerback’s eliminated such doubt. He’s currently tied for the NFC lead with four interceptions and is the team’s first Pro Bowl cornerback since Antoine Winfield in 2010.

In almost every one of Minnesota’s games, Rhodes has made it a habit of shutting down the opposing teams’ top receivers. From Odell Beckham Jr. to DeAndre Hopkins, he’s put the clamps on premier receiving threats with cleaned up technique and a renewed focus. Even if he hadn’t been selected to the Pro Bowl, Rhodes has had his best season as a pro and deserves a contract extension from the Vikings next year.

Everson Griffen

Lost in Danielle Hunter’s breakout season is the always-reliable play of Griffen. He’s been overshadowed by the second-year stud, but Griffen remains Minnesota’s best — and most valuable — defensive end. According to the team’s official website, Griffen ranks in the top 10 among defensive ends in sacks, total tackles, forced fumbles, sack yards, tackles for loss and quarterback hurries this season. His eight sacks on the year rank seventh among all defensive ends and he continues to be a force against the run.

Cordarrelle Patterson

Patterson’s return to the spotlight netted him a return to the Pro Bowl. What’s always been undeniable about Patterson is his kick return ability, which was on full display in 2016. He leads the league with 757 kickoff return yards and averages 31.5 yards per return, also best in the NFL. If his pace continues, he’ll finish as the league leader in kickoff return average, which would make Patterson the only player to do so three times.

Although he was selected as a return specialist, Patterson’s also made strides as a receiver in Pat Shurmur’s quick-strike offense. He started seven games for the Vikings, setting a career-high with 49 catches this season. Patterson also scored two touchdowns and proved to be valuable in key third down situations throughout the year.

Harrison Smith

Smith’s selection to the Pro Bowl needs little explanation. Even before the season, he was considered one of the league’s best safeties and continued to prove his worth before an ankle sprain ended his 2016 campaign. Signed to a long-term deal this offseason, Smith appears to be a part of Minnesota’s long-term plans and should be a shoe-in for future Pro Bowls.

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Austin Belisle

Austin Belisle is the West Coast's biggest Vikings fan, a football diehard cheering on the purple and yellow from sunny California. After graduating from San Jose State University in 2014, he began working full-time in corporate marketing and blogging on various sports websites. Austin's passion for the Vikings led him to Vikings Territory, where he hopes to share his lifelong enthusiasm for the team with readers on a daily basis. You can follow him on Twitter @austincbelisle

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  1. This is tragic news Austin.

    By now, in every corner of the globe, Viking fans are infuriated by the spiteful snub of Zach Line.
    Zach has had a career year averaging 2.14 yards per carry. This is an enormous boost from his career best of 1.7 yards per carry last season.

    As I look around the league, it quickly becomes clear that there is not another player comparable to Zach Line’s talent. It’s as if there is a huge void and Zach is standing dead center in this void. To draw on an analogy, imagine the crowd surrounding Big Johnny the morning after a lotta beer and cheap Mexican food. My point is, he stands alone.

    Line improved his rushing average in spite of the fact that half of the Vikings offensive line was working in a lumber yard about a month and a half ago. It’s still up for debate which is stiffer, the OL or the lumber they were humping around in their last job.

    The Pro Bowl is going to be held in some sh!t hole called Orlando in 2017. Not here in Honolulu. Hopefully two things will happen next year, the NFL will come to it’s senses and play the 2018 Pro Bowl in Aloha Stadium. Second, the NFL should allow Zach Line to make his grand entrance to the Pro Bowl by parachuting into Aloha Stadium with the 5th Psychological Paratrooper Battalion aka “The Flying Squirrels”

    1. I agree with 100% of what you just said Ole. Specifically the part about Orlando…

      1. That place is the arm pit of America, Brett. The last time I was there in 1975, it was all swamp, mobile homes and dead snakes. Since then, I’ve heard they have expanded the Rat Cult to Orlando. For some reason, the word “Disney” seems to attract the cult followers.

        No one is against some fun and games, but I guarantee you, a lot of perspectives would change if cult followers could witness Minnie Mouse remove her head to light up a Benson and Hedges.

        Getting selected to a Pro Bowl in Orlando is, in reality, a punishment.

        1. The wife and I went there to go to Universal (she is a cult follower of Harry Potter). We enjoyed our time at the theme park but I was thoroughly unimpressed with Orlando. And this is coming from someone who is from Vegas!

          1. When Vegas gets an NFL team, Goodell will hold the Pro Bowl in Pahrump Nev.
            A huge upgrade from Orlando

            1. Ole, I can promise you that Pahrump is an upgrade from nowhere. My parents lived out there for a few years… Visiting, while I loved seeing them, was awful. That place has few to no redeeming features.

              The idea of the Pro Bowl being in Pahrump is a hilarious concept.