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SI Ranks Vikings 7th in Preseason Power Rankings

With training camp in full swing, the aroma of football is in the air.

August means it's time for the sounds of pads crunching, the cheers of crowds and the return of power rankings.

Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated recently unveiled his preseason rankings and had the Vikings at No. 7.

Burke wrote:

The Vikings just handed coach Mike Zimmer a contract extension, and why not? In two seasons at the helm, Zimmer has molded the roster in his image and produced a team capable of rivaling the New Englands and Cincinnatis of the world when it comes to making the playoffs on a consistent basis.

Minnesota was the third-highest NFC team on Burke's list behind the Cardinals and the Panthers, who took the top two spots, respectively.

The Vikings, who went 11-5 and won the NFC North last season, play both teams this season.

Brooks: Griffen poised for breakout season for Vikings

Defensive end Everson Griffen has gained notoriety around the NFL. He is only one of three players (along with J.J. Watt and Von Miller) to produce double-digit sacks in each of the past two seasons.

Bucky Brooks of thinks the "Sack Daddy" is in store for even bigger things in 2016 as Brooks says Griffen could top everyone in sack numbers.

Everson Griffen will lead the league in sacks this season because the Vikings are a team that, more often than not, should be playing from ahead. The emergence of Minnesota's offense with Adrian Peterson, Stefon Diggs and weapons in the passing game (Stefon Diggs, Laquon Treadwell and Kyle Rudolph) will give the team early leads, allowing the defense to hunt.

In the past, the Vikings have been in a lot of close games, so the defense hasn't been able to attack. Now that the Vikings are going to be playing against teams that are chasing points, Griffen will have more opportunities to get after the passer.

Griffen has 22.5 combined sacks over the last two seasons and has 40 career sacks in his first six seasons in the league.

Spielman, Zimmer on same page in Vikings front office

It's no secret that the key to a successful football team is strong relationships in the front office.

Mark Craig of the Star Tribune recently looked at the Vikings power structure and found a similar way of thinking has helped Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman and Zimmer get the franchise on a path poised for potential future success.

Zimmer, who was rewarded with a contract extension last week, said he has no desire to be a general manager.

Craig wrote that Zimmer's selfless attitude goes along well with Spielman and has allowed the Vikings to thrive on the field.

Naturally, relationships are strengthened when one side [Spielman] handpicks the other side [Zimmer] after a thorough search and interview process. It also helps, of course, that the two of them are seeing quick results, having taken a five-win team to an 11-win division title in two seasons.

But unlike 2010, when the Vikings were coming off a division title, or 2013, when the Vikings were a returning playoff team, the team's current success seems sustainable, foundational. That's why Spielman went to ownership and recommended Zimmer's contract, which was to run through 2017, be extended.

"I just felt it was the right time," Spielman told Craig. "No question in my mind that the way he coaches and the direction he has us heading that this is the guy who's going to carry us into the future."

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