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Vikings proving they are threats

The Minnesota Vikings were a trendy pick before the 2015 National Football League season began to make some noise in the NFC. Most believed Minnesota would be a wild card team while the Green Bay Packers had their way in the NFC North, earning yet another divisional championship.

Things seemed to be following the predicted script through the first six weeks, with Green Bay rolling to a perfect 6-0 record. Now? Everything is upside down. The Packers have lost three consecutive games, including a stunner on Sunday at Lambeau Field to the previously 1-7 Detroit Lions. Detroit had not won on the road against Green Bay since 1991, back when Don Majkowski was the starting quarterback with the Packers.

Meanwhile, the Vikings are rolling. Minnesota has won five straight games including a 30-14 throttling of the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum on Sunday afternoon. Adrian Peterson was his dominant self, running for 203 yards including an 80-yard touchdown jaunt in the fourth quarter to seal the game.

Minnesota now sits at 7-2 and a game clear of Green Bay in the NFC North. Depending on the result of the Sunday Night Football game between the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota could be sitting alone as the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs headed into Week 11.

The Vikings will need quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to give them more if they have hopes of going deep into the playoffs. Minnesota has been terrific without Bridgewater being prolific, but the winter months require a team’s quarterback to make the big throws in the money moments. On Sunday, Bridgewater completed 14-of-22 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown against a middling Oakland secondary. Bridgewater needs to find more yardage on the field, perhaps testing himself with some deeper throws to Stefon Diggs and Mike Wallace.

Going forward, the schedule presents a very tough challenge. The Vikings will host the Packers next Sunday before visiting the Atlanta Falcons. Following those contests, Minnesota plays host to the Seattle Seahawks before hitting the road for the Arizona Cardinals. The final three weeks have the Vikings welcoming in the New York Giants and Chicago Bears before finishing the campaign at Green Bay.

The Vikings will need tremendous efforts and execution to continue their winning ways. All that said, head coach Mike Zimmer has been able to motivate and scheme his way to a 7-2 mark. There is little reason to believe the Vikings are suddenly going to fall apart, even if the level of competition is about to escalate.

Whether or not Minnesota ends up at the top of the NFC North, it should earn its first playoff berth since the days of Leslie Frazier and Christian Ponder. With such a young team in so many spots, that is worth celebrating in the Twin Cities.

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