Entering Week 14 of the NFL regular season, the Minnesota Vikings are 10-2 and sit atop the NFC with the best record, and may even be the most balanced team in the NFL.
Leading up to last Sunday’s game against Atlanta, the Vikings in their 9 wins were averaging 28.2 points per game. In their last three games prior to Sunday, all of which were victories, the Vikings averaged 33.1 points per game.
Vikings quarterback, Case Keenun, has become a legitimate candidate for MVP, and on Sunday was his efficient self, completing 25 of his 30 passes for 227 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but more importantly no turnovers.
However, on Sunday against the Falcons, the Vikings needed help from their defense to win their game, and it did not disappoint.
At the end of the game, the Vikings in part were victorious 14-9 thanks to the pair of touchdown passes by Keenum, but more importantly by a defense that stifled the explosive Falcons offense to one field goal during four drives in the second half.
If you dig deeper into the numbers you can see the Falcons defense did its own job holding the Minnesota’s No. 4 ranked offense to just 14 points on 3.4 yards per rush and only one completed pass of 20 yards or more.
But even more impressive was the Vikings defense playing on the road and holding the No. 7 ranked offense in the NFL to just three field goals.
The Falcons offense, led by current reigning NFL MVP quarterback Matt Ryan was almost unstoppable a season ago, but was slower to start this season under new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.
Atlanta averaged 32 points per game in its victories over Dallas, Seattle, and Tampa Bay, just slightly lower than its season average of last year of 33.8 points when they represented the NFC in Super Bowl LI.
However, the offense appeared to be back to its dominating self through its three-game winning streak until the Vikings abruptly ended it on Sunday.
What Happened Sunday?
For Minnesota’s defense, just more of the same. The Vikings defense entered the game against Atlanta as No. 6 ranked in defensive efficiency, and eighth overall against both the run and pass. When the game ended the Vikings had held Ryan to just 173 yards passing, no touchdowns, and a successful third-down conversion rate of just 10% (1 for 10).
Why the NFC Should be Worried
Most NFL pundits know it is not about how you start, it is all about how you finish. Minnesota, which has now won eight consecutive games and nine of its last 10, enters the final month of the NFL regular season with games on the road at Carolina, home versus Cincinnati, away at Green Bay, and home versus Chicago.
Minnesota is one of only four teams with an offense and defense ranked in the top 10, and the Vikings appear to be reaching their peak at the right time.
The Vikings have what it takes to win, otherwise they would not have won 10 of 12 games. However, not every win is pretty, but somehow the team has found ways to win despite losing starting quarterback Sam Bradford and rookie running back sensation Dalvin Cook early in the season.
While much of the talk this season has been about second-year quarterback Carson Wentz and his upstart Philadelphia Eagles and the explosive offense of the Los Angeles Rams behind their second-year quarterback Jared Goff, Keenum and his Vikings teammates have flown under the radar to the top of the conference and that should scare the rest of the NFC.
What do you think? Should the rest of the NFC be worried about Minnesota or could the Vikings fade down the stretch?