The Minnesota Vikings have quietly uprooted division king Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers and are now only one win away, versus said Packers, from having a firm grasp on the NFC North division.
Go ahead and pinch yourself, this is not a dream, the mighty Packers are mighty no longer. The absence of Jordy Nelson and the ineffectiveness of the Packers' run game have stunted the team offensively, and the defence was never an elite unit to fear.
This has left room for a little team called the Minnesota Vikings to quietly take command of that division. Out of all the playoff teams this year, I'd say the Vikings have garnered the least amount of media attention. I was actually surprised to hear that they have a 7-2 record.
So how have the Vikings done this? And why isn't anybody taking notice? And why is this team a dangerous one to look out for come playoff time? All shall be answered below.
How Have The Vikings Done it?
The Minnesota Vikings play a tried and tested style of football that I believe will never go out of fashion - run the ball and play good defence.
It'll come as no surprise to learn that the Vikings lead the league in rushing because Adrian Peterson, who has topped 100-yards on five different occasions this year, is carrying the Vikings power run offence each and every week.
The veteran is seemingly getting stronger and more explosive as the season progresses.
Although the Vikings rank 31st in passing, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is playing solid enough football to compliment the hard-hitting running style of Adrian Peterson.
While it may not win you many games, as long as the defence continues to play at the level it's been playing at, Teddy won't have to win you the game.
This brings me to the defence that Mike Zimmer has schemed up. It's a young, fast, and talented unit that is really underrated when it comes to talking about the top defences in the league.
They rank ninth overall, eighth against the pass and fifteenth against the run, but the stat that really stands out is points allowed per-game; They're allowing only 17.1 points a game which is incredible.
Why is no one taking notice?
This is a difficult question, but I think it is all related to the love everyone has for Aaron Rodgers.
More people would rather discuss the Packers losing than the Vikings winning, and that's the harsh truth when you play in a division with an elite quarterback. Players like Rodgers generate most of the attention, which can be a good and bad thing.
It might also be due to the fact that the statistics aren't that mind-blowing, they are just grinding out tough wins, finding ways to win, and doing so by any means necessary, very similar to the Panthers.
Why will this team be dangerous in the playoffs?
It all harks back to what I said earlier; running the ball and playing good defence.
This is a formula that has helped many a team reach, and win, the Superbowl - the Seattle Seahawks are a great example.
The NFC playoffs will be an interesting affair, with the Vikings, Cardinals, and Panthers all being very strong teams looking to go all the way.
I think the Vikings can go out and beat any team they want to in the playoffs, because their ability to run the ball and stop teams scoring is unmatched in the league.
Mike Zimmer has done wonders with this team, both through the draft and by developing and utilising current players.
Zimmer has transformed the Vikings from the Packers' doormat to a real competitor in the NFC.
Some consideration has to be given to Mike Zimmer for coach of the year, I think he's earned it, don't you?