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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Gather ‘Round The Gjallarhorn, It’s A Vikings Thanksgiving

By Vikings – WCCO | CBS Minnesota

By Anthony Brousseau

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — What a year, Vikings fans.

After a division win and hard-fought playoff loss last year and promising preseason, the Vikings had plenty to be thankful for this summer.

Since Aug. 31, though, the Vikings have had a string of bad luck. That was the day franchise quarterback Teddy Bridgewater lost his season, and potentially more, to a devastating non-contact knee injury during practice.

On Sept. 18, in a victory against the rival Green Bay Packers in the first ever regular season game at U.S. Bank Stadium, Adrian Peterson tore his meniscus. The Vikings placed him on injured reserve with designation to return, meaning he could come back yet this season.

A blockbuster trade for Sam Bradford, 5-0 start to the season, four game losing streak and bucketful of offensive line injuries later, the Vikings sit at 6-4, and while it may not seem like it, they’ve got plenty to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

A Probable Playoff Berth, With A Division Win In Sight

On Turkey Day, the Vikings will take on the Detroit Lions, with the game’s victor taking the lead in the division. Both teams sit at 6-4, with the Lions holding the tiebreaker thanks to their heartbreaking overtime victory against the Vikes in Week 9.

With the NFC North looking the weakest it has in years, it’s unlikely the Vikings miss the playoffs. The perennial champion Packers lost the division to the Vikes last year, and this year’s Pack is a shell of the powerhouse teams Aaron Rodgers has led in the past decade. At 4-6, with a stretch of tough games ahead, it’s not unlikely they lose the division, or even miss the playoffs entirely.

The Lions look hot right now, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won this division more recently than them (it was the NFC Central at that time, but the point stands). Their offense, led by a resurgent Matthew Stafford, is dangerous, but their defense is nothing to write home about.

I still like the Vikings to win the division, but even if they don’t, they’re in good position to earn a wild card spot.

One Of The League’s Best Coaches

Since Mike Zimmer took over in 2013, the Vikings have gone 24-18. The former Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator has taken a bottom-feeding defense and turned them into one of the best in the league.

Outside of demigod Bill Belichick, I don’t know if there’s many coaches the Vikings would take over Zimmer. He’s proven to be a capable leader, great player coach and astounding defensive mind.

In addition to his skill as a coach, he’s just entertaining to watch. With the reddest face this side of Tom Coughlin and a mouth that spews profanities volcanically, Zimmer’s sideline antics are GIF-worthy every week.

A Core Of Young, Emerging Talent

Since Zimmer’s taken the reins, the report on this team has been that they’ve got a young, talented defense that can carry their, let’s say, lacking offense.

That hasn’t changed this year. The offense is still mostly stagnant and the defense is still the cornerstone of the team. However, they now can say they’ve got young talent on both sides of the ball.

On defense: Harrison Smith, Xavier Rhodes, Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Linval Joseph, Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen. That’s a lineup that would scare any offensive coordinator.

On offense, there’s not as many high-profile names, but Stefon Diggs is making his case as one of the best wide receivers in the game. Besides Diggs, the Vikings have a rejuvenated Cordarrelle Patterson, hometown hero Adam Thielen, a suddenly competent Sam Bradford, and if they ever fix their offensive line, Jerick McKinnon has the potential to be an exciting player out of the backfield.

Now, we’ll see if all this potential pans out, but this is a Vikings team worth getting excited about.

Improved Quarterback Play

If you had told me in August that Sam Bradford would lead the Vikings on a four game winning streak without Peterson and with five turnstiles in front of him, I would’ve slapped you. But here we are, almost three quarters of the way through the season, and Bradford looks like a legitimate NFL starter.

Now, I’m not ready to throw my name in with the group that says Bradford is the future no matter what happens with Bridgewater. I think if Bridgewater recovers from this injury — which could be a big if — he’s shown enough flashes that the team should give him a chance to start, even if they have to ease him into it.

There’s no denying Bradford has played well this year, especially with the multitudinous limitations before him. But we’re not talking about Tom Brady here. We’re talking about a quarterback who has played competently for stretches of his career, but has never really shown top 10 QB ability.

Bridgewater was fraught with potential before his knee injury, and though Vikings fans are all too familiar with franchise QBs suffering career-altering knee injuries (read: Daunte Culpepper), if and when he comes back, fans should remember how excited they and the team were about him before he went down.

Regardless of what happens with the Bradford-Bridgewater battle, the Vikings should be grateful for the improved quarterback play they’ve seen this year. I shudder to remember the Christian Ponder years.

At Least They’re Not The Chicago Bears


So, as the Vikings fight for the division lead against the Lions, let’s pass the turducken around, give thanks to the Norse gods and reflect on what, all things considered, has been a season fans should be grateful for.

Source:: CBS Minnesota

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