Lunchbreak: ‘Sports Illustrated’ Chronicles Vikings 2018 Roller-coaster Season

As the Vikings enter the 2018 regular-season finale, they have had quite the up-and-down year over the past few months.

Minnesota currently sits at 8-6-1 and faces a win-and-in scenario Sunday at home against the Bears.

Greg Bishop of Sports Illustrated spent an extensive amount of time with the Vikings ever since training camp, profiling the highs and lows of the 2018 team.

Bishop compared Minnesota’s topsy-turvy season to an electrocardiogram (EKG) of heart activity.

He wrote that after the Vikings dropped to 6-6-1 and the outlook appeared bleak, Minnesota responded with two straight wins.

That’s not how the EKG works. In keeping with the season’s theme, the Vikings gash the Dolphins for 41 points in Week 15, their highest output in three years. They rack up 220 yards on the ground, a season high, while a healthy Cook goes off for a career-best 136. And the defense sacks Ryan Tannehill nine times, marking just the second instance since 1990 of a team hitting at least that number twice in the same season. A week later they pour 27 points on the Lions, limiting Detroit to 86 rushing yards and holding Matthew Stafford to an abysmal 116 passing yards.

This is life in the NFL, an unstable week-to-week existence defined as much by what happens between games as by what happens on the field, as much by the obvious (the facility, the free-agents signings) as by more inconspicuous events (injuries, unexpected absences, funerals, coaching rifts...) … [The Vikings are] in position to make the playoffs heading into Week 17, a scary high-ceiling team sneaking up on the plateauing Saints and Rams.

The Vikings current record is tied for the most games above .500 they have been all season, as Minnesota was 5-3-1 entering Week 11 and 6-4-1 before Week 13.

The worst record the Vikings have had was their 1-2-1 mark after Week 4, which was the only team Minnesota was under .500 this season.

Bishop’s lengthy feature on the Vikings can be found here.

Diggs, Smith among Vikings MVP candidates

The Vikings have had a number of standout performances in 2018, most notably from wide receiver Adam Thielen and defensive end Danielle Hunter.

Thielen has set career highs with 110 catches for 1,335 yards and nine touchdowns, and Hunter has also had his best season with 14.5 sacks.

After removing Thielen and Hunter from that consideration, Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune gave the nod to another wide receiver and a safety.

Krammer wrote:

The second Most Valuable Player(s) on offense and defense would go to Stefon Diggs and Harrison Smith. Diggs might finish with the quietest 100-catch season in memory. With six catches against the Bears, Diggs and Thielen become the seventh duo in NFL history with 100 grabs apiece. Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster already became the sixth duo this month. Diggs leads the Vikings in yards after the catch (426) and has had his biggest games against critical opponents (128 yards at GB, 126 yards at CHI, 123 yards at L.A.).

Only four NFL safeties have more run stops than Smith's 17, and none have fewer missed tackles than his one this season, according to Pro Football Focus. During linebacker Anthony Barr's three-game absence, Smith started playing more of a hybrid linebacker role in certain situations, which is why the Vikings' run defense didn't drop off much without their downhill linebacker. He's as versatile as they come and an easy selection behind Hunter for defensive MVP.

Diggs has 94 catches for 974 yards and eight touchdowns in 2018, while Smith ranks second on the Vikings with 89 total tackles (team stats) and has eight pass breakups, nine tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.

Zimmer Foundation gives back for the holidays

The Mike Zimmer Foundation has continuously given back to those in need, and the holiday season was no exception.

Corri Zimmer White, the daughter of the Vikings Head Coach, recently posted an update that showed the foundation’s generosity.

Zimmer White tweeted that the foundation impacted five families with more than $10,000 of toys and gifts.

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