One Viking Has Shot at Player of the Year Hardware

NFL: Preseason-Minnesota Vikings at Cincinnati Bengals
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Have you thought about candidates for the Minnesota Vikings midseason MVP award?

Of course, that’s not a real thing, but if it were, outside linebacker Danielle Hunter would have to live near the top of the list.

One Viking Has Shot at Player of the Year Hardware

The purple EDGE rusher leads the NFL in sacks and tackles for loss entering Week 10, an impressive feat for the man who turned 29 last month. And don’t look now, but Hunter is flirting with Defensive Player of the Year recognition.

Player of the Year
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The Vikings regular season hit a midpoint at halftime of last week’s win at the Atlanta Falcons, and with eight games remaining, folks can reasonably expect Hunter to stay in the mix for DPOY. He’s that good.

As of November 9th, these are the odds for DPOY:

  • Micah Parsons (DAL) = +190
  • Myles Garrett (CLE) = +190
  • T.J. Watt (PIT) = +250
  • Maxx Crosby (LV) = +2900
  • Aidan Hutchinson (DET) = +4000
  • Danielle Hunter (MIN) = +4500
  • Josh Allen (JAX) = +4500
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So, yes, Hunter is sixth in line at the moment to take home the trophy, which can be considered a smidgen low or insulting based on the man’s performance. He leads the sport in the metrics mentioned above, sacks and tackles for loss, so what more do oddsmakers want?

Every year, the football grading outfit, Pro Football Focus, has some strange scores for a player(s), and this year, that’s Hunter. PFF classifies Hunter as the league’s 37th-best EDGE rusher, with a 74.8 grade. Bizarre. Perhaps that mark is dragging his DPOY odds down a bit.

How Can the Vikings Beat
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Hunter has anchored the Vikings defense for the entire season, producing zero poor games, and was the shining light when Brian Flores’ group sputtered out of the gate. Through the first three games, versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Philadelphia Eagles, and Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota’s defense ranks 26th leaguewide per EPA/Play — code for seventh-worst in the NFL. But from Weeks 4 to present, Flores’ unit ranks seventh-best, a clear sign of improvement.

The climb has assuredly been collaborative, but Hunter is the showstopper upfront on the Vikings defensive line. The chaos and prestige start with him — unquestionably.

The Vikings 2022 Defense by the Numbers: After Week 9
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No Vikings player has taken home DPOY glory in 34 years. The last man to do it was linebacker Keith Millard in 1989. Hall of Famer Alan Page won the inaugural DPOY honor in 1971.

Minnesota is a home 2.5-point underdog versus the New Orleans Saints this weekend.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by