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Vikings Aware of Bye Week's Value

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The benefits of a first-round bye include the opportunity to rest and recover from a 16-game regular season.

There's also the opportunity to review a few things that a team can improve, which Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer plans to do this week.

But beyond that, there's been a strong correlation of teams having a first-round bye and making it to a Super Bowl.

"It's big," Zimmer said Sunday after his team secured the No. 2 seed and bye in the NFC Playoffs. "The last five years in the NFC, one of the two teams that had the bye represented the NFC in the Super Bowl. So it's big."

Zimmer continued by glancing across the room and asking, "How'd you like that one?"

"I didn't know if I should say it or not, I used it with the team the other night," Zimmer added.

The Falcons (No. 2 seed in 2016), Panthers (No. 1 in 2015), Seahawks (No. 1 in 2013 and 2014) and 49ers (No. 2 in 2012) have represented the NFC in the past five seasons.

Zimmer wasn't afraid to mention the significance of earning a bye leading up to the Bears game.

He was rewarded when Minnesota defeated Chicago 23-10 in a convincing fashion that enabled the Vikings to finish as the NFL's top overall defense (275.9 yards allowed per game) and scoring defense (15.8 points allowed per game).

A review of every playoff field since 2002, when the NFL changed alignment to have eight four-team divisions, shows that 22 of the 30 Super Bowl participants made the big game after having a first-round bye (12 AFC teams and 10 NFC teams).

Sixteen of the past 30 Super Bowl participants were No. 1 seeds, and six (three from each conference) were No. 2 seeds.

Baltimore (in Super Bowl XLVII at the end of the 2012 season) is the most-recent team to hoist the Lombardi Trophy by winning four playoff games. That Ravens team capped a three-year stretch of Wild Card teams winning it all (Green Bay was a No. 6 seed before winning XLV, and the New York Giants were a No. 4 seed before claiming XLVI with help from current Vikings defensive tackle Linval Joseph).

Joseph is the only Vikings player who has won a Super Bowl, and Brian Robison is the only Viking remaining from Minnesota's 2009 team that advanced to the NFC Championship.

Others, including Case Keenum, will be making their first postseason appearance on Jan. 14 when U.S. Bank Stadium hosts its first postseason game just three weeks before Super Bowl LII occurs on the same turf.

Keenum, an offseason signee who went 11-3 as a starter and played a part in a 12th win, has explained how much he enjoys the atmosphere for home games.

"We are going to give this thing everything we've got," Keenum said. "We're excited to play at home. This place is crazy hard for teams to come in and play, especially with our defense. I'm excited. I think this place is going to be rocking. I think all of Minnesota is pretty excited, too."

While the Vikings will have time to review, rest and recover, Keenum emphasized this is not an "off" week.

"It's a bye, and that means we are going to reload and not just rest," Keenum said.

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