There are a myriad of on-field reasons why the Vikings have surged to a 10-2 record with eight straight wins.
Off the field, however, might be where Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer's team works the hardest.
Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune recently took a peak at how Zimmer's squad puts in the effort throughout the week to be successful on Sunday.
And whether it's watching extra film of an opponent or diving into their own playbook more, Scoggins noted that the effort is paying off for the Vikings.
This isn't revolutionary discovery, of course. Studying opponents has been standard procedure across the NFL and in college football for years. The Vikings just seem really dialed-in to their preparation and gaining any edge possible right now.
Zimmer often lauds his team's work ethic behind the scenes. He estimates that maybe once a month he needs to prod his players to raise their intensity in practice. Otherwise, they are generally in the mood to work hard, which is commendable because practice during the grind of a season can be as enjoyable as fingernails clawing a chalkboard.
Zimmer and his staff keep players on their toes by asking questions in team meetings about their next opponent. They might inquire about a certain offensive formation, or defensive tendency, or something related to special teams. Coaches expect correct answers.
Waynes got called on a few times as a rookie. He learned a lesson.
"Ever since then," he said, "I came prepared pretty well."
Scoggins chatted with Everson Griffen for the piece, and the Vikings defensive end said he's watching film almost everywhere he goes.
Many of Griffen's teammates do the same, a direct correlation of why the Vikings have positioned themselves for a playoff spot.
We only see the results, not the process. Winning eight consecutive games and being viewed as a legitimate Super Bowl contender incentivizes their extra work and time spent on preparation.
"You've got to know your opponent better than yourself," Griffen said. "That's how you win games. You get tendencies. You get tips. You get that edge."
Vikings offense has multiple 3rd-down options
After converting half of their third-down tries Sunday in Atlanta, the Vikings now have the NFL's top offense in that situation.
Entering Week 14, Minnesota has converted on 74 of 161 attempts, which is good for a league-best 46.0 percentage.
Tim Yotter of Viking Update took a look at the Vikings success on third down, noting Minnesota has multiple options to turn to in order to move the sticks.
*Right now, [Adam] Thielen gets the credit because of his production, but it hardly ends there. He is second in the NFL with 27 third-down receptions, averaging 13.5 yards in those situations. *
*But what is perhaps more impressive is that the Vikings have four players in the NFL's top 50 for the third- down receptions. *
Stefon Diggs is tied for 23rd with 16 third-down receptions, including three touchdowns, and Kyle Rudolph and Jerick McKinnon are tied for 44th with 13 receptions on third down. Rudolph is averaging 10.6 yards on his third-down catches, including one touchdown, and McKinnon is averaging 4.8 yards, which is the lowest average (by at least a yard) among those in the top 50.
Yotter also noted the production of Jarius Wright, who isn't in the top 50 in number of conversions but delivered in a key situation yet again on Sunday. Wright's reliability has earned him a nickname.
"Mr. Jarius Wright, we call him Mr. Third Down. He does some great things when he gets the ball in his hands," Diggs told Yotter. "He gets us conversions. We convert, try to keep the ball moving, and sustain drives. That's huge, and that's what our coach tells us to do in order to be successful."
Tickets on sale for Super Bowl Experience
The Super Bowl Experience offers fans a unique chance to get involved in the festivities surrounding Super Bowl LII, offering interactive games, youth football clinics, merchandise from NFL Shop presented by Visa, player autograph sessions and more.
Fans are invited to join the National Football League to celebrate the history of the Super Bowl and ring in Super Bowl LII in the heart of downtown Minneapolis at the Minneapolis Convention Center for the 25th edition of Super Bowl Experience, which will be open to the public from Saturday, Jan. 27 to Saturday, Feb. 3.
Tickets to the Super Bowl Experience are $35 for adults and $25 for children 12 and under, and permit entry for a particular day and time. For expedited lines, an SBXtra Fast Pass may be purchased for $55 for both adults and kids, while quantities last.