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PFF's Highest Graded Center? Vikings Joe Berger

There were no breaking news updates or additions to the crawls of sports networks when the Vikings re-signed Joe Berger this offseason.

A year-long injury to John Sullivan, however, along with solid play by Berger took him from super sub to a starter rated superior to all centers in the NFL this season.

Mark Craig of the Star Tribune caught up with Berger for his reaction to being rated as the top center by analytics site Pro Football Focus:

*Joe Berger has no idea what a grade of 26.8 actually means. But he's a polite guy, so he thanked Pro Football Focus for crunching its analytics thingamabob and spitting him out as the best center in the NFL this season. *


*"Any time anyone recognizes you as doing well at something, you know, it's good," said Berger, whose first NFL playoff start in an 11-year career will come Sunday when the Vikings play Seattle in an NFC wild-card game at TCF Bank Stadium.

*Berger, who edged Cowboys Pro Bowler Travis Frederick (25.4), admits he's skeptical and hasn't followed the website closely. *

"Until most recently, I guess," he said. "I heard my name kind of get thrown out there with it."

"As far as how they get their scores and that stuff, I don't know how all that comes about," Berger said. "I know you hear mixed reviews on it. It's a cool number, but what matters most to me is how I'm graded in our room."

Craig wrote that the combination of Berger's play to fill in for Sullivan, who underwent two back surgery procedures, is "possibly the greatest quiet move made by a playoff team this season."

Hot, hot and cold

Vikings Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton, who guided the Vikings to three Super Bowls, and was under center the last time the Vikings hosted an outdoor playoff game (1976 NFC Championship), wrote in his weekly column for the Pioneer Press that he sees two hot teams heading into a cold, cold Sunday.

Tarkenton took issue with the concept of trying to avoid particular sides of a postseason bracket.

*You can't make a playoff run by avoiding teams like Seattle. You have to play them and beat them. And the Vikings are capable of doing just that. *


Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Seahawks.

Seattle is the two-time defending NFC champion, and there is no denying they're a very good team. But they are not the same juggernaut they were in those previous years. *

Tarkenton took a look at how the Rams provided one of two losses by the Seahawks in their final 10 games of 2015.

St. Louis won despite starting Case Keenum at quarterback. Keenum entered the year with a 2-8 record as a starter and has bounced from team to team and practice squads to active rosters. The Rams' strategy was all about defense and the running game.

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