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The best Minnesota Vikings teams ever? We counted; you decide

As Minnesota Vikings fans celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, we take a look back at the best single seasons of all time in the 55-year history of the franchise.

As Americans party on this Fourth of July holiday, we’re going to do the same. But before that, we wondered what are the 10 best Minnesota Vikings teams of all time? There was only one stipulation. There has to be at least one team from each decade – taking care of six of the 10 teams.

On the anniversary of United States of America being officially founded, we let the voters do the talking. Let the arguments begin.

10. 2015 Vikings – Clearly the best team of the decade, although some argument can be made for the 2012 Vikings, when Adrian Peterson ran for 2,000 yards. But, there was never a hard-core belief that Christian Ponder and a defense with too many key holes could make a Super Bowl run. The 2015 Vikings have laid a foundation like no other team this decade that the future is going to be better than the past or present.

9. 1973 Vikings – Fran Tarkenton is in his second year. Chuck Foreman redefines the running back position as a rookie. Bob Lurtsema gets five sacks (what?). The team wins its first nine games. The defense allows 13 points or fewer in 10 of 14 games. They advance to the Super Bowl. Miami denies them a Super Bowl title.

8. 2000 Vikings – They weren’t as dominant as the team two years earlier, but they got out of the gate 11-2. Cris Carter and Randy Moss combined for 173 catches for 2,711 yards and 24 touchdowns – part of Daunte Culpepper’s 33 touchdowns and 3,900 yards in his first year as a starter. It ended 41-donut, but before that it was a wild ride that dangled the Super Bowl carrot in front of Vikings fans a second time in three years.

7. 1970 Vikings – The defense never gave up more than 20 points in a game. The team went 12-2, including a 27-10 beatdown in their rematch with the Chiefs following their Super Bowl loss. The Purple People Eaters front four had 36 sacks. They outscored their opponents 335-143. If not for losing to Francisco in the playoffs, they would have been rated higher.

6. 1976 Vikings – The last full run with the Bud’s crew, they went to the last Super Bowl that has included a Minnesota team. With an 11-2-1 record, they earned home field and took care of business to get to the Super Bowl. It was Tarkenton’s last hurrah on the international stage. Alan Page and Carl Eller had 28 sacks. They allowed 10 points or fewer eight times in a 14-game season. There had better be some heavy hitters for this one to land at six.

5. 1987 Vikings – The most exciting and frustrating season in the franchise history. No team has ever been as angry with the permeating stink of an in-season strike by players fed up with work conditions, the word “scab” got tattooed in Vikings Country like a tramp stamp.

4. 2009 Vikings – On the subject of scabs, the schism between Brett Favre and the Packers may have never healed had this team gone all the way. Favre was the most efficient of his career and had a veteran-laden team that rolled through the competition before imploding against the Saints in the NFC Championship Game.

3. 1975 Vikings – Perhaps the most complete team in franchise history. They went 12-2. They outscored their opponents 377-180. They won nine games by double digits. Their two losses were by a combined total of eight points. Foreman rushed for 1,000 yards, catches 73 passes and scored 22 touchdowns. The defense allowed 17 points or fewer 11 times. If not for the Hail Mary (Drew Pearson pushed off!), the Vikings likely would have won the Super Bowl.

2. 1998 Vikings – Randy Mania runs wild. The Vikings set a record for scoring with 556 points. They went 15-1 and their only loss came by three points against a Tampa Bay team that didn’t turn the ball over or punt. They won seven games by 20 points or more. They were arguably the best offense ever to play a single season. An overtime loss to Atlanta may have broken more hearts than any loss in franchise history.

1. 1969 Vikings – In 14 games, the Vikings went 12-2 and allowed just 133 points. In their final 13 games, Minnesota never allowed more than 14 points. They scored 50 or more points three times. The season led to the only NFL championship in franchise history. An upset Super Bowl loss to Kansas City dampered what the team accomplished that season.

Today marks a mile marker for the 2016 NFL season. The countdown clock to training camps opening starts and, as we take a pause to celebrate our country’s birthday, we look back at the best that ever was in Vikings football and honor those who have paved the way before the full attention of players, coaches and fans focuses on what is to come in 2016.

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