The Minnesota Vikings are off to a surprising 4-2 start, garnering attention league wide.
The 2011 season was one to forget for all Minnesota fans, as the Vikings finished last in the NFC North, with a record of 3-13.
After the season, the team cut ties with many veterans and was fully entrenched in a rebuilding project.
Coming into the 2012 season many experts around the league predicted the Vikings to once again finish last in the NFC North. The prediction was fairly logical and fans of the team and fans all around the NFL were not arguing against it.
The Vikings, one of the youngest teams in the NFL, had a disgruntled wide receiver in Percy Harvin, played in arguably the toughest division in the league and star running back Adrian Peterson was coming off of a torn ACL.
Sitting in second place in the NFC North at 4-2, many people are asking how the script has been flipped so quickly.
The answer is actually easier than one would assume. the 2012 Vikings have been winning the “49er way.”
Lets take a closer look. The 2010 San Francisco 49ers were 6-10 and not expected to cause havoc for opponents on their 2011 schedule. However, they had a drastic turnaround that saw them go 13-3 and make it all the way to the NFC Championship game.
This season’s Vikings actually have many of the same characteristics as last year’s surprise 49ers team. The Vikings feature an old-fashioned West Coast offense that some modern-day NFL fans may even consider boring.
Much like San Francisco, it all starts with the run game, and to the amazement of everyone, Peterson has started every game so far this season.
Through six games, he has 499 yards and two touchdowns. Last year’s 49ers put their quarterback, Alex Smith, in low risk situations in which put him in position to manage games and avoid turning the ball over.
The Vikings are trying to mimic this recipe with their second-year quarterback, Christian Ponder. The Vikings often run bubble screens or short slant routes, playing low- risk football.
This has all been possible because of the emergence of Harvin. In the offseason, he had hinted at requesting a trade but now says all that talk is in the past.
The Vikings defense has been injected with youth. In the offseason, they let a pair of defensive stalwarts in E.J. Henderson and Cedric Griffin walk away.
In the NFL Draft in April, the team traded up for safety Harrison Smith and also selected cornerback Josh Robinson.
These moves have given some excitement to a unit that has played top-tier defensive football during 2012.
By playing low-risk offense, and smart and effective defense along with strong special teams, the Vikings have been able to surprise many folks around the NFL and set themselves up for a successful season.