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Bleacher Report – Vikings

How does the Vikings’ No. 1 ranked defense compare to (recent) history’s best?

By Matthew Coller

With a dominating performance against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings’ defense could end up in the company of some of the best defenses since the turn of the century.

Heading into this week’s game, the Vikings rank 10th in single-season yards allowed since 2000. If they give up fewer than 300 yards, Mike Zimmer’s defense will crack the top 40 of 576 teams.

Zimmer already has a team on the list. He was the defensive coordinator of the 2003 Dallas Cowboys who allowed the sixth fewest yards of any team since 2000 and ranked second in the NFL in scoring.

So how do the Vikings compare in other key areas to the defenses that drove their teams to Super Bowl victories? Let’s have a look..

2017 Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings’ defense is the complete package with an elite pass rusher, run-stuffing nose, speedy linebackers, shutdown corner, playmaking safety and guru head coach. They have shut down top quarterbacks like Matt Ryan and Jared Goff and made below average QBs look foolish. While the Vikings haven’t been as dominant against the pass as the Jacksonville Jaguars, all three of the biggest passing games against Minnesota’s defense (New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Washington) included a huge chunk of yards when the Vikings were up by two scores. The only weakness that puts Zimmer’s 2017 defense behind some of the best of the century is a lack of turnovers.

Yards allowed per play: 4.7 (tied for first)

Points allowed per game: 16.1 (first)

ANY/A against: 4.6 (third)

Turnovers forced: 19 (19th)

2008 Pittsburgh Steelers (first in total yards against since 2000)

Dick LeBeau and the Steelers own three of the top 10 defenses in yards against since 2000, but the 2008 version was his Mona Lisa. James Harrison had 16.0 sacks, Troy Polamalu picked off seven passes and the Steelers only gave up 300 total yards one time during the regular season. Considering passing games were beginning to take off, posting an Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt under 4.0 is an incredible feat at that time when league average was 5.7.

Yards allowed per play: 3.9 (first)

Points allowed per game: 13.9 (first)

ANY/A against: 3.2 (first)

Turnovers: 29 (ninth)

2000 Baltimore Ravens (third)

The most hyped and referenced defense since the ’85 Bears, the Ravens’ D dragged Trent Dilfer to a Super Bowl victory. They picked up more turnovers than anyone since 2000 and pitched four shutouts in one season.

Yards allowed per play: 4.3 (second)

Points allowed per game: 10.3 (first)

ANY/A against: 3.9 (fourth)

Turnovers: 49 (first)

2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (fifth)

Possible the best pass defense of all time, In a victory over Carolina, the Bucs gave up 20 passing yards. They did not allow a 300 yard game, even in the postseason and only gave up four 200 yard games.

Yards allowed per play: 4.2 (first)

Points allowed per game: 12.3 (first)

ANY/A against: 2.3 (first)

Turnovers: 38 (third)

2013 Seattle Seahawks (22nd)

They may have ranked down the list from other top defenses in total yards, but the ’13 Seahawks are the only team to run the table in all four key categories. The Legion of Boom hit its stride toward the end of the season, putting together a string of five straight games allowing fewer than 200 yards passing. In that stretch, they picked up 13 turnovers. The Seahawks also get bonus points for beating Drew Brees and Peyton Manning en route to the Super Bowl.

Yards allowed per play: 4.4 (first)

Points allowed per game: 14.4 (first)

ANY/A against: 3.2 (first)

Turnovers: 39 (first)

2015 Denver Broncos (38th)

After losing the Super Bowl in 2013 to Seattle, Denver stacked their defense with talent and came back with a vengeance two years later. With Manning looking like a shell of his old self, the Broncos defense beat Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady and league MVP Cam Newton in the playoffs. Their run defense was as impressive as pass as they ranked No. 1 in yards per attempt allowed and gave up fewer than 30 yards on three occasions. Pittsburgh was the only team to throw for more than 300 yards in a game against the ’15 Broncos.

Yards allowed per play: 4.4 (first)

Points allowed per game: 17.3 (first)

ANY/A against: 5.1 (first)

Turnovers: 27 (seventh)

How do the Vikings stack up?

The Vikings are a shade behind these all-time great defenses because of their lack of turnovers, but one more strong performance against a mediocre Bears team would put them in the ballpark, thus giving reason to believe Zimmer’s defense is good enough to carry the Vikings to a Super Bowl appearance.

The post How does the Vikings’ No. 1 ranked defense compare to (recent) history’s best? appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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