What happens when a team starts a season 7-1 and it doesn’t make a sound?
The Minnesota Vikings are one of the hottest teams in football, but no one is talking about them as a legitimate threat for a Super Bowl title. The team feasted on a weak early season schedule and could potentially catch another break this week against the Buffalo Bills in Week 10.
A road game against Buffalo (6-2) would normally be a great test for a team to see how it stacks up against the league’s best. QB Josh Allen (elbow) is day-to-day, however, which puts a huge roadblock in front of what the Bills want to do on offense. It’s also the latest in a line of Vikings’ good luck.
Minnesota has already won games where opponents started backup QBs Taylor Heinicke (Washington), Teddy Bridgewater (Miami) and Andy Dalton (New Orleans).
The Vikings have also been aided by playing in one of the worst divisions in football. In fact, per data from Football Outsiders, there’s an argument to be made that the NFC North is the worst.
Based on the site’s overall Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) ratings, the NFC North is the only division in football without a team in the top half of the rankings. Minnesota (No. 18) leads the division, followed by Green Bay (No. 21), Detroit (No. 22) and Chicago (No. 28). The NFC North is also the only division in football where every team has a negative overall DVOA.
It is the only division with three six-loss teams.
It’s fair to argue that the Vikings are simply doing what a team should do when facing lesser opponents. If that’s the case, they’ll need to do that again if Case Keenum starts for Buffalo instead of Allen. After this week, things could finally start to get tough for Minnesota.
The Vikings will face the Dallas Cowboys (6-2) on Nov. 20, New England Patriots (5-4) on Nov. 24, New York Jets (6-3) on Dec. 4 and New York Giants (6-2) on Dec. 24. Strong showings in those games would erase the stain of their 24-7 blowout loss to Philadelphia (8-0) in Week 2.
With struggles, they’ll go out as quietly as they came.