The Vikings are 6-2 and sitting atop the NFC North. Riding a four-game winning streak, the team holds a two-game lead over Detroit and Green Bay in the division. The Vikings are well-positioned heading into the second half of the season.
All is well, right? Not so fast. This is the Vikings we’re talking about.
The final eight games include matchups against multiple teams fighting for the playoffs. With the Vikings facing perhaps their most difficult portion of the schedule, here are the second half storylines the Vikings Territory team is interested in watching — beginning Sunday.
Can Everson Griffen and the Vikings Defense Keep up this Destructive Pace?
The Vikings defense has been incredible through eight games this season. Defensive end Everson Griffen has set the tone for Minnesota along its defensive line, linebacker Anthony Barr has stepped up in a big way relative to his 2016 struggles and both cornerback Xavier Rhodes and safety Harrison Smith have unleashed their inner All-Pro form. But can Griffen and Co. continue to play at this high of a level moving forward?
We saw the Vikings defense regress to the mean last season, but was that more a result of injury and having to compensate for offensive inadequacy? Or are the Vikings simply not capable of sustaining elite defensive play for an entire 16-game season? Only time will tell – but watching this story develop through the winter should be riveting television for fans of the purple and gold.
NFC North Race
I think an underrated storyline in the second half of the season is the race for the NFC North title. Detroit, while two games back of the Vikings, boasts one of the easiest remaining schedules in the NFL and will likely be favored in every remaining game. Meanwhile, the Vikings face a tough five-game stretch that includes four on the road.
Additionally, the Lions do have the tiebreaker over Minnesota for now. The Thanksgiving matchup at Ford Field looms large. It’s not absurd to think the winner of that game will eventually go on to win the NFC North title.
At the risk of taking the easy route, I have to be honest: the second half storyline I’m most looking forward to following is the Vikings’ quarterback situation. Every opinion has already been made, and every angle has been dissected, so I’m just interested in watching it play out.
Stacking Up to the Competition
Hello Adversity My Old Friend
In a private conversation with the VT team regarding the depth of this year’s Vikings, I quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson. “Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.”
This team is deep BECAUSE of injury. It can handle adversity better than most because of that fact.
The Vikings have lost their starting quarterback and starting running back for the season. You wouldn’t be able to tell looking at their record. But, like I mentioned in the intro, this is the Vikings.
There’s little doubt that adversity will find its way back to the team’s doorstep. In what way, shape or form, no one knows.
Obviously I hope I’m wrong and that’s not the case — but this year, unlike years past, I’m not so worried. Something’s different. There’s something special about this team. Maybe like I said, it’s the depth. Maybe it’s the family-like bond the team has seemed to form on and off the field.
Regardless of what it is, I’m looking forward to seeing how the season unfolds. With damn near everything surrounding the team trending upward, I don’t see a limit to how far this team can go. It’s built for the long haul.