Career Game on Tap Sunday for Danielle Hunter

Are Evaluators Not Watching Danielle Hunter?
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The Minnesota Vikings are back from the bye week with a date in Las Vegas against the Raiders. When Danielle Hunter takes the field, he will have an opportunity to do something he has never accomplished in his NFL career.

Career Game on Tap Sunday for Danielle Hunter

It has seemingly become a yearly exercise for some time now to see Danielle Hunter ask for an offseason raise. While he didn’t stay away from the team to start training camp this time, he still sought a higher payday. After getting it and hitting the field, he has delivered in every way imaginable.

Career Game on Tap
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Through twelve games this season, Hunter has accumulated 13.5 sacks. He trails only the Los Angeles Chargers Khalil Mack and the Pittsburgh Steelers T.J. Watt in that category. Individually, though, he has never accumulated more than 14.5 sacks in a season, and you have to go back to 2019 for the last time it happened.

The Raiders are roughly in the middle of the pack when protecting the quarterback. Jimmy Garoppolo and Aiden O’Connell have been taken down exactly thirteen times this season, and the change to a younger, more inexperienced quarterback could have him ripe for the picking on Sunday.

Minnesota will be hoping that the Raiders represent an opportunity to get back in the win column, and the long delay following an ugly outing against the Chicago Bears needs to be wiped from memory. While the Vikings have plenty to consider on their own at quarterback, they can help themselves by bringing down the opponent’s passer.

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Hunter should be front and center in the picture for consideration as the Defensive Player of the Year. Minnesota’s edge rusher has dealt with a revolving door on the opposite side of him after Za’Darius Smith departed, and it hasn’t slowed him down at all. Hunter came back in a big way last season after missing significant time in 2021, and he has continued to be a menace in 2023.

This is the fifth time in Hunter’s career that he has eclipsed double-digit sack totals throughout the season, but to have a career-high within reach and so much runway left is beyond impressive. It should be expected that Hunter can surpass the 14.5 total he is eyeing, and the incentives baked into his contract will reward him handsomely along the way.

To this point in the season, Hunter has a pair of games in which he has recorded multiple sacks. Putting up big numbers in the five remaining contests down the stretch could have him sniffing Michael Strahan’s single-season record. It isn’t likely that he gets there, but to have it be a possibility at this point is something in and of itself.

Hunter Is
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When Minnesota replaced Ed Donatell with Brian Flores, there was significant hope that the defense would take a sizable step forward. It’s clear that Flores has accomplished that and then some, but to see a player like Hunter getting better at this stage of his career is nothing short of incredible.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.