Despite having a 5-2 record, the Minnesota Vikings are flying under the radar. This is as it should be. Minnesota is in second place in the NFC North with nine games to play. They still have a lot of work to do before being talked about with the best in the NFL.
The Vikings trail the Chicago Bears by a half game in the North. They are one game up on the Green Bay Packers. Minnesota has yet to play the Bears and Packers. They played their only division game of the season so far against the Detroit Lions on September 30.
Starting November 25, the Vikings have a three game stretch with Chicago and Green Bay. They will play the Bears first, Green Bay then Chicago again. Minnesota will play the Packers in the season finale on December 30.
This is important, because division games mean everything in the NFL. Minnesota will be in playoff contention come Thanksgiving. With four games against the Bears and Packers they will have a chance to prove their worth and win the North. If the Vikings can win two out of those first three then they could find themselves in first place. If they were to win one then Minnesota would stay in the hunt. If the Bears and Packers win all three then the Vikings would be in serious trouble. All of the early season success would ring hollow.
To this point, Minnesota has done almost everything they could to put themselves in playoff contention. Their only losses have been to the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins. The Vikings even beat the San Francisco 49ers in a week three contest. In a league in which there are no great teams, Minnesota can feel as though it has just as much of a chance as anyone.
The road is about to get tougher for the Vikings. Not only do they have Chicago and Green Bay left on their schedule. Minnesota also has a much improved Seattle Seahawks team on the road. After that it is division game number two against the Lions. After the three game NFC North stretch, Minnesota has to play the St. Louis Rams and Houston Texans on the road. Of the eight games the Vikings will play in the second half, seven will be against teams with winning records.
Minnesota has had a very successful season so far. They are one of five teams in the NFC with at least five wins. The Vikings have a chance to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2009. However, there is a lot of football left to play.
Minnesota may be flying below the radar for a reason. They have yet to play the toughest part of their schedule. If they can survive and thrive in November and December everyone will know who they are.