Coming off a dismal three win season in 2011, nobody picked the Vikings to compete in the tough NFC North, but that’s exactly what they’re doing through seven games.
So how have they done it?
The answer is with stout, physical defense, and by frequently utilizing their two offensive stars: Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin. They’re using quarterback Christian Ponder to manage games, and for the most part, have not beat themselves in the first half of the season.
The TNF game here in week 8 though, is the first chance for this team to show what they can do on the national stage. Playing on NFL Network in front the entire country, is a little different than appearing on regional FOX broadcasts.
Will that have have any impact on most of the team? I doubt it, but for the young players, I’m interested to see how they respond.
Most of the attention of course is going to be on Ponder, who is playing in the highest profile game of his career. Yes it’s just TNF against the 2-4 Bucs, but it’s a way bigger stage than he’s used to.
Quarterbacks face tons of scrutiny no matter what the stage, but Ponder has a real opportunity here to show what he’s made of and avoid harsh criticism with a solid outing.
Players and teams are defined by how they play in the biggest games, and again while this is far from a must-win for the Vikings, it will go along ways towards their perception throughout the league, and towards boosting their confidence going forward.
The spotlight is Minnesota’s come Thursday night. It’s a game they’re expected to win, and if they come out flat, fans everywhere will still be left unsure of who the Vikings really are.