At the midway point of the 2016 regular season, NFL Media columnist Adam Schein put together a story encompassing the nine "biggest statements across the league." At No. 5, Schein said that at this point in the season, Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer deserves to win Coach of the Year.
Schein called Monday night's loss to the Bears "highly disappointing," but emphasized the Vikings first seven games as a whole. He wrote:
*No Adrian Peterson? No Teddy Bridgewater? An offensive line that's injured and derailed? No problem! The Vikings are 5-2, sitting atop the NFC North – and that's all Zimmer. The no-nonsense coach has his defense playing fast and furious in his identity (see: No. 1 scoring defense, No. 2 total D). *
Schein credited Zimmer for helping make quarterback Sam Bradford's transition "seamless" after joining the Vikings via trade on Sept. 3.
The O-line needs to stop allowing so many QB hits, but so far, Bradford has completed 66.5 percent of his passes while posting an 8:1 TD-to-INT ratio and 98.2 passer rating.
Minnesota's in a bit of a slump, having lost two straight, but I trust Zimmer to right this Viking ship.
Previous Super Bowls say Vikings can't be counted out
The Vikings have now dropped back-to-back games at Philadelphia and at Chicago, but the Star Tribune's Michael Rand said it's not time to hit the panic button just yet. In looking back at the past 10 Super Bowls, Rand pointed out a number of teams that have faced similar consecutive losses or midseason snags and gone on to appear in the big dance.
Rand included the 2015 Super Bowl Champion Broncos team on his list, pointing out that the team suffered back-to-back losses during the regular season before finishing 12-4.
Also on Rand's list were the division-rival Packers, who finished 10-6 in 2010 and went on to defeat the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.
An offense that looked unstoppable in the postseason wasn't always that way. Green Bay lost back-to-back games twice that season, including a 7-3 setback to the Lions. Green Bay, in fact, had games where it scored 3, 9, 10 and 13 points that year. In four playoff wins, the Packers averaged 30 points per game.
Other teams included were the 2006 Colts, who lost four of six games after starting out 9-0, and the 2012 Ravens, who "lost three in a row and four out of five down the stretch, with shaky offensive line play being a main culprit."
Rand concluded with the following:
None of this is to say the Vikings don't have real problems. But so did plenty of other teams who went on to win it all.
Vikings look to add 9th defeat of Lions in 11 games
The Vikings will look to bounce back this week against the Lions, hosting their first home game since Oct. 9. ESPN's Ben Goessling reminded readers that the Vikings have played well against the Lions as of late. He said that Detroit generally delivers to the Vikings "a solution for what ails them." Goessling wrote:
The Vikings have beaten the Detroit Lions in eight of the last 10 games the two teams have played in Minnesota, and in their two games with the Lions last year, they sacked Matthew Stafford a combined eight times, sending him to get X-rays on his bruised ribs after the second game at Ford Field.
Goessling also shared a scouting report courtesy of ESPN Lions reporter Michael Rothstein. Included in the report was Lions quarterback Matt Stafford, who has been putting up impressive numbers this season. Rothstein said Stafford, who has thrown only four interceptions thus far, has been a "good decision-maker and smarter quarterback" this season.
He was 27 of 41 for 240 yards and a touchdown Sunday, less efficient than he has been, but he wasn't the reason Detroit lost and couldn't get their offense going (the receivers didn't help much there). Minnesota has been a rough go of it for him in recent years, though. He was beaten up heavily by the Vikings in two games last season, and while Detroit's offensive line is improved from last season, it is still susceptible to pressure.
Rothstein also offered takes on running back Theo Riddick, tight end Eric Ebron, safety Glover Quin, defensive tackle Khyri Thornton and linebacker Tahir Whitehead.