With a perfect record, the NFL's top defense and an offense that has yet to turn the ball over, the Vikings are set to come off of their bye and jump right back into the action, with a game on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday.
Here are five storylines to chase during the buildup to Week 7's Vikings-Eagles matchup…
1. Bradford returns to Philadelphia
It was just over six weeks ago when Sam Bradford was acquired by the Vikings via a trade with the Eagles. In that short amount of time, though, Bradford's gotten a lot done. The Vikings are off to a 5-0 start and Bradford started the last four games. He has a passer rating of 109.8, second highest in the NFL, he's yet to turn it over while also throwing six touchdown passes and he's completing a League-best 70.4% of his passes. Now, Bradford returns to Philadelphia, a place where he started 14 games and compiled a 7-7 record in 2015 before being shipped off to the Vikings eight days before the 2016 regular season was set to begin.
2. Rookie Wentz versus Vikings defense, Zimmer
The reason the Eagles were able to make the trade that sent Bradford to the Vikings will be starting at quarterback for them on Sunday – rookie Carson Wentz. The North Dakota State product is off to a fantastic start in his career. Wentz began the season by leading the Eagles to a convincing 29-10 win over the Cleveland Browns and he pushed the team's record to 3-0 with a 301-yard, two-touchdown performance in a 34-3 blowout of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Since then, the Eagles have had their bye and they've dropped two games. Wentz's performance has remained strong even in the team's losses. On Sunday, though, Wentz faces his stiffest NFL test yet. The Vikings defense has held opponents to a NFL-low 65.3 passer rating and they lead the League in both takeaways (12) and points allowed per game (12.6). The Vikings also rank second in yards allowed per game (287.6) and third in sacks (19). Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer has helped guide a defense that has made the likes of Eli Manning, Cam Newton and Aaron Rodgers look confused. On Sunday, he'll face a rookie and will try to keep the string of impressive defensive performances going.
3. Vikings look to regain momentum coming off bye week
There was no team playing better than the Vikings through the first five weeks. But there also weren't many teams more banged up. So while the Week 6 bye did keep an undefeated Vikings team from stacking up one more win, it also gave the roster a chance to rest and recuperate. Now, the Vikings come out of their bye and they won't have much of a grace period to get going again with consecutive road games kicking off a string of 11 consecutive games to close out the season.
4. Offensive line, running game look to gain traction
First it was Matt Kalil, then it was Andre Smith. And then, in the Vikings final game before the bye, starting right guard Brandon Fusco was forced from the action. The hits have kept coming along the Vikings offensive line, so much so that the Vikings signed former No. 1 overall pick Jake Long off the street as they headed into the bye week. What the offensive line will look like this Sunday in Philadelphia remains to be seen. Regardless of who is in the lineup, though, the time is now for that group to gain synergy and traction over the final 11 games. Doing so will help keep Bradford upright and playing well, and it could also help get the ground game on track. The Vikings rank last in rushing yards (353) and yards per carry (2.5), but the Eagles are allowing a gaudy 4.8 yards per carry on defense, which ranks 29th in the League. Now would be a great time to get the running game going for the Vikings with two consecutive road games and three road contests in the next four games. A sound ground game is one way to help neutralize a hostile crowd.
5. Time for Vikings to gear up for the spotlight
The preferred route for this Vikings team is to stay under the radar, be held to low expectations and sneak up on teams. Well, you can't be incognito when you're undefeated. This 5-0 Vikings team isn't going to be sneaking up on anyone, at least not for now. On Sunday, the Vikings will bring Bradford back to Philadelphia in a game that will be broadcast by FOX's top crew. Next week, the Vikings play on Monday Night Football. Next month, the Vikings have a Thanksgiving Day game followed by a *Thursday Night Football *showdown with the Dallas Cowboys. The spotlight will be bright and it will be on the Vikings, so it's time for the team to embrace and handle it well.