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Lunchbreak: Mark Wilf Says Coach Zimmer is a 'Tough Cookie'

With the news on Tuesday that the Vikings will cross the pond for the first time since 2013 to participate in the 2017 London Games, Peter Carline of The Daily Mail, a U.K. publication, spoke with Vikings Owner Mark Wilf about the return trip and the team's current season.

"The way we view it is that it's a unique opportunity for our [organization]," Wilf told Carline. "We've opened U.S. Bank Stadium this year, and we're trying to grow our brand internationally. We've been very deliberate in seeking out an international audience."

Wilf [did not] confirm if Minnesota plans to arrive on these shores on the Tuesday or the Friday before the game. The latter option was preferred by five of the six teams who played this season, the exception being the Los Angeles Rams.

"We're so focused on playing the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday that it's not even on our radar yet," Wilf told Carline. "Once the season concludes – and hopefully it will be later rather than sooner – we will focus on next year and all the logistics."

Wilf also told Carline that the Ownership remains "very confident" about the team and coaching staff after the 2016 season that he called "a roller-coaster year."

"We've had some adversity, but they fight and they play hard," Wilf said. "Fortunately we were on the winning side last week, and we're just doing it one game at a time.

On gnarled defensive guru [Head Coach Mike Zimmer], Wilf purred: 

"Hell of a coach. He's a tough cookie. What he's gone through with his eye surgery. He's really a great example for our team to follow."

CBS Sports: Zimmer at No. 11 for Coach of the Year

Although the seasons hasn't quite wrapped up, CBS Sports' Sean Wagner-McGough looked back through the first three-fourths of the season and which coach has been most successful.

Prior to the season's start, Pete Prisco had penciled in Zimmer as his pick for Coach of the Year:

He will get the Vikings to the playoffs without his starting quarterback. That's good enough for me.

At 7-6, the Vikings are still hunting for the postseason after a barrage of injuries and mid-season slump. Wagner-McGough ranked Zimmer at No. 11 at this point for Coach of the Year. He wrote:

The Vikings weren't supposed to compete when Teddy Bridgewater lost his season, yet Zimmer found a way to hold the team together. He's repeatedly dealt with injuries (including to himself), but the Vikings are still a team nobody wants to face because of his defense. I don't think they'd even be a .500 team without Zimmer. A team with a worse coach would've cracked by now, but the Vikings didn't.

Wagner-McGough placed Cowboys Coach Jason Garrett and Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.

Holler: 5 Vikings to Watch

As the Vikings face the final stretch and hope to keep their playoff hopes alive, Viking Update's John Holler said there are five Vikings who could be key as Minnesota finishes out the regular season.

One player Holler highlighted was wide receiver Adam Thielen.

No longer a feel-good story, Thielen has become a legitimate baller who can be counted on to make big plays on third down and in the clutch when needed. With defenses focused on the deep speed of Stefon Diggs and the seam-stretching/red zone ability of Kyle Rudolph, Thielen is likely going to be getting more single coverage downfield than any other Vikings receiver. Perhaps no player has made more improvement in his game this season than Thielen, which could also have been said last year.

Holler also wrote about defensive end Danielle Hunter, whom he referred to as the "wild card" on Minnesota's defensive line. He wrote:

With 10.5 sacks already this season, he's making a case that it is more and more difficult to keep him off the field. As the Vikings hit the stretch run with their next two games against Pro Bowl quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers, if the Vikings are going to run the table, it's going to take bringing the heat on quarterbacks and not letting them escape the pocket when the bullets are flying. Hunter is doing that as well as any Vikings pass rusher and will be key down the stretch.

In addition to Thielen and Hunter, Holler said opined that running back Jerick McKinnon, kicker Kai Forbath and safety Andrew Sendejo will also be looked to for strong performances in the Minnesota's final three games.

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