The Vikings gave the NFL a blueprint on how to beat the Eagles last year. Can they do the same for another hot team on Sunday against the Denver Broncos?
A year ago, the Vikings met a Philadelphia team that was riding high, posting a record of 10-4 having won three straight and six of the previous seven games heading into its meeting with the Vikings. Not only did the Vikings defeat the run-happy Eagles, they gave the rest of the league the blueprint of how to beat Michael Vick
, who, at the time, seemed invincible.
Starting with that game, Vick and the Eagles have lost 12 of their 16 games since and it was the Vikings that showed everyone else how to beat Vick – bring blitzes and take away what he does best.
As the Vikings meet the Denver Broncos
today, you get much the same impression. The Broncos have won four straight road games, their last four games overall and are 5-1 with Tim Tebow
as their quarterback. They are as hot as the Eagles were and have a running offense that has befuddled their opponents and left defensive coordinators scratching their heads.
Can history repeat itself today? The Vikings weren't expected to be the team that could knock the Eagles from their perch, yet they became the game everybody else watched in cracking the Vick mystique. You get a sense of déjà vu as it pertains to Tebow and the Broncos. Perhaps the Vikings can once again give the rest of the NFL the key to shutting down an offense currently thought to be invincible in its own unique way.
The Vikings were the catalyst that has brought down the Dream Team and will look to do to same to the Broncos ground-and-pound offense today. We'll know today if history is on their side.
VIKINGS-BRONCOS BY THE NUMBERS
The Vikings have the 23rd-ranked offense in the league (5th rushing, 30th passing). The Broncos have the 25th-ranked offense (1st rushing, 31st passing).
The Vikings are averaging 315 yards a game (179 passing, 136 rushing). The Broncos are averaging 313 yards a game (160 rushing, 153 passing).
The Vikings defense is ranked 19th (9th rushing, 19th passing). Denver is ranked 18th (19th rushing, 17th passing).
The Vikings are allowing 358 yards a game (258 passing, 100 rushing). The Broncos are allowing 355 yards a game (235 passing, 120 rushing).
The Vikings are tied for 12th in the giveaway/takeaway ratio at plus-1 (14 takeaways, 13 giveaways). Denver is tied for 22nd at minus-4 (13 takeaways, 17 giveaways).
The Vikings and Broncos have both struggled kicking field goals this year. The Vikings are 29th in field goal percentage (missing four of 17 field goals), while the Broncos are 30th (missing five of 18 attempts).
Neither team is very adept at intercepting passes. The Vikings have been at six and holding for six weeks, which has dropped the Vikings defense to 30th in interception percentage. Denver has just seven picks and ranks 29th.
The Vikings are 11th in red zone offense, converting touchdowns on 54.3 percent (19 of 35) of drives. Denver is 19th at 48 percent (12 of 25).
The Vikings defense is tied for 13th in the red zone, allowing touchdowns on 21 of 42 opponent drives (50 percent). Denver is 21st at 55.6 percent (20 touchdowns on 36 drives).
The only 300-yard passing game for either team was by Kyle Orton, who has since been cut by the Broncos.
The Vikings have allowed three 300-yard passing game. Denver has allowed four.
The teams have combined to have three 100-yard receiving games. Of those, only Eric Decker will be playing Sunday. Brandon Lloyd has one and he was traded to St. Louis and Michael Jenkins has the other and he's on injured reserve.
Both teams have allowed six 100-yard receivers.
Adrian Peterson, who will miss a second straight game with a high ankle sprain, has three 100-yard rushing games. The Broncos have twice as many, five from Willis McGahee and one from Tebow.
The Broncos have allowed three 100-yard rushers, while the Vikings have allowed just one.
Despite starting six games, Tebow hasn't thrown enough passes to qualify among the league leaders at quarterback.
Tebow has thrown enough passes in the fourth quarter to qualify among the leaders and has a passer rating of 107.8 in the fourth quarter – more than 37 rating points higher than his overall passer rating. His fourth-quarter passer rating trails only Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.
Peterson, who led the NFL in rushing earlier in the season, has dropped to seventh place with 872 rushing yards. McGahee leads the Broncos with 775 yards, good enough for 11th place. Tebow is 31st with 455 rush yards.
Percy Harvin is tied for 22nd in receptions with 51. Eric Decker is tied for 55th in the league with 37 receptions to lead the Broncos.
Harvin leads the Vikings with 554 receiving yards, good enough to tie for 41st in the league. Decker is 45th with 527 yards.
Despite missing most of the last two games, Peterson is still tied for second among non-kickers in scoring with 12 touchdowns. He trails only LeSean McCoy of the Eagles, who has scored 15 touchdowns, including two on Thursday night.
Ryan Longwell is tied for 25th in scoring among kickers with 64 points. Denver's Matt Prater is 29th with 61 points.
Jared Allen is second in the league in sacks with 13.5, a half-sack behind league leader DeMarcus Ware and three ahead of his next nearest competition, which includes Denver rookie Von Miller with 10.5 sacks.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.