The Vikings road to success in 2017 could be playing out right in front of their eyes.
Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune took a look at how Minnesota's 8-8 finish in 2016 was a lot like Atlanta's 2015 season.
And with the Falcons headed to Super Bowl LI, Atlanta's success this season could help the Vikings going forward.
As you probably already know and are also probably sick of hearing over and over and over again, the Vikings in 2016 became the sixth team since 1990 to miss the playoffs after starting a season with five straight wins.
The fifth team to do it will be in the Super Bowl in a couple of weeks.
The Falcons started 5-0 last season before losing eight of their final 11 games, including one to the Vikings, to finish at .500. Sound familiar?
Vensel noted that the Falcons 2016 draft class made an immediate impact, and that a handful of free agent signings bolstered Atlanta's roster even more.
The result was an 11-5 season and an NFC South title, along with an appearance in the Super Bowl.
While Vensel noted Atlanta's run to the title game doesn't mean it will happen to the Vikings, he added that it will be intriguing to watch how Minnesota responds following a disappointing season.
This is obviously a small sample size, one with a wide range of outcomes, so there is no trend here. But given the talent the Vikings will return in 2017, if they can find a way to fix their offensive line, they are more likely to be back in the playoff hunt than the hunt for the No. 1 overall pick.
Minnesota connections in Super Bowl LI
Super Bowl LI will have a subtle Minnesota flavor.
Ben Goessling of ESPN.com took a look at the connections linking the Vikings and Minnesota to the showdown between Atlanta and New England.
The most notable is the two former local college players who will suit up for the Falcons.
(Atlanta's) defense includes two former University of Minnesota players — defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman and linebacker De'Vondre Campbell, who visited with the Vikings before the 2016 draft. The Vikings also visited running back Devonta Freeman before the 2014 draft; the fourth-round pick has scored a combined 27 touchdowns the last two years, while being named to two Pro Bowl teams.
New England cornerback Justin Coleman and Patriots defensive line coach Brendan Daly each also spent time with the Vikings.