The Vikings head into the 10th game of their NFL schedule on the right track.
Minnesota (7-2) is hosting the divisional foe Green Bay Packers (6-3) with the chance to defend first place in the NFC North.
Not many would have predicted the standings so far, and while Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer preaches to his team not to listen the naysayers, he also doesn't want them to harp on the positive attention.
ESPN's John Clayton writes that week after week the Minnesota Vikings have continued to prove they are a balanced team built to take on the Packers on Sunday.
Teddy Bridgewater* says Zimmer preaches to his players not to believe everything they hear. Particularly how great they are. That's the cheese. The message is clear every Wednesday when Zimmer presents to the team. He'll list stats based around what the Vikings have yet to accomplish, what they haven't managed to do. Think about numbers on the Vikings' bad record against winning teams, or how poorly they've done on the West Coast, or how they've struggled coming out of bye weeks.*
The deeper we go into the 2015 season, the more we find out some initial thoughts about the Vikings were wrong. For instance, this season was supposed to be the season to prove Bridgewater was a good young quarterback who could help the Vikings become a wild-card team. The return of Adrian Peterson after 15 missed starts last year was supposed to give Bridgewater some needed cover. But what we are finding out is that Vikings are simply a well-built football team that goes beyond Bridgewater and Peterson.*
Zeroing in on Bridgewater and Peterson was just the cheese, so to speak. The win over the Raiders again proved that this is a balanced squad, effective on offense, defense and special teams.
Vikings handling success
When Zimmer addressed the media two weeks ago at his weekly press conference, he spoke about the four steps he preaches will make his football team champions.
His Vikings had just beat the Chicago Bears at Soldier field for the first time in eight years to advance to 5-2.
The Packers have lost the past three games, and the Vikings have extended their win streak to five games. Tim Yotter of Viking Update wrote about how Zimmer and the Vikings are handling the success.
It will be a monumental opportunity for Zimmer's crew. Beat the Green Bay Packers, who are on a three-game losing streak and lost to the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field for the first time since 1991, and the Vikings will have a decided two-game edge in the division.
"People have exposed the formula on how to play them," former NFL coach Tony Dungy said on NBC of the Packers. "Everyone's playing them the same way – keep Aaron Rodgers in the pocket and blanket those receivers."
The Vikings have moved onto the third phase of Zimmer's four-step program to a championship – handling success. If they wanted to cite doubters in the first half of the season, those will be harder to find now. Count former Pro Bowl safety Rodney Harrison among those who now view the Vikings as the best team in the NFC North.
"It's Minnesota, and quietly they have one of the best defenses in the league," Harrison said on NBC. "This is a defense that can match up with Green Bay."*
Vikings rookies prepare for Green Bay
Mike Zimmer said earlier in the season that he admired the way Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots moved on after a win, and focused on the next week's opponent.
The Vikings now look ahead to one of the most important games of the year against the Green Bay Packers. Several rookies who contribute to the Vikings offense and defense prepare to get their first taste of the Vikings-Packers rivalry on Sunday writes Jason Gonzalez of the Star Tribune.
Many of the young faces around the Vikings locker room are still new to the rivalry with Green Bay. Rookie wide receiver Stefon Diggs said Monday he hasn't heard much about it, and first-year defensive end Danielle Hunter couldn't say much about it.
To them, Sunday's home matchup with the Packers is just another important division game.
"Everybody is young across the league, so the game has changed so much over the last 10 years and these rivalry games for players are a little bit different than maybe they are for the fans," veteran linebacker Chad Greenway said. "If you've been a fan of the Minnesota Vikings for 25-30 years, this rivalry probably means a lot more to you than Danielle Hunter, who has been in Minnesota for six months. That's just the reality.
"To a lot of these guys, it's about coming in and doing your job and you're just playing against another guy in another jersey. For me, being here 10 years, it means a lot more to me than it does a lot of these guys. It just depends on where you're at [in your career]."
Adrian Peterson is ahead of the 2012 pace that yielded over 2,000 yards writes the Fox Sports staff.
Minnesota Vikings receivers are more than 'glitter and shine' writes Eric Oslund of Viking Update.